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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

‘I Have Smoked Crack Cocaine,’ Toronto’s Mayor Admits on Camera

Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitting past drug use to reporters on Tuesday was posted online by the CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster.

After dodging questions for months about video evidence said to show him using drugs, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford stunned constituents and his own staff on Tuesday by telling a scrum of reporters, “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.”

Video of Mr. Ford’s admission, during an impromptu news conference, showed him asking reporters to repeat the question they first raised in May, when reporters for Gawker and The Toronto Star described being shown video that appeared to show the mayor using drugs. When one reporter asked, “Do you smoke crack cocaine?” the mayor admitted that he has done so, but took issue with the way the question had been asked, saying, “Do I? Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably, approximately a year ago. I answered your question. You ask the question properly, I’ll answer it.”

Mr. Ford then said, “there’s been times when I’ve been in a drunken stupor â€" that’s why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I’d like to see this tape. I don’t even recall there being a tape or a video and I know that, so I want to see the state that I was in.” He added: “So I wasn’t lying. You didn’t ask the correct questions. No, I’m not an addict, and no, I do not do drugs.”

Robyn Doolittle, a Toronto Star journalist who viewed an excerpt from the recording in May, reported that the mayor’s sudden reversal, after months of denials, surprised even his aides.

As Don Peat, a Toronto Sun journalist, reported, the news conference ended abruptly when a reporter asked the mayor if he was high at that very moment.

After the news broke, Mr. Peat shared an image on Twitter of protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks calling on the mayor to resign outside Toronto’s city hall on Tuesday afternoon.

The mayor confronted the press pack shortly after his brother Doug, a close adviser who also serves on the city council, had suggested that the city’s police chief, Bill Blair, had exhibited bias last week by saying that he was “disappointed” when he viewed the video of the mayor first seen by reporters in May.

After the mayor’s reversal, another city council member drafted a motion calling on him to cooperate fully with the police, apologize and take a leave of absence.

The mayor told The Toronto Sun later, “I feel like I got 1,000 pounds off my back.” He added that he has no intention of resigning or stepping aside: “I felt I had to say it. It is what is. I feel two inches high right now but I needed to deal with it. I am not going to quit or take a leave. I am not an addict or an alcoholic. I have work to do and I am moving on. The way I see it now, this is over.”

In the wake of Mr. Ford’s admission on Tuesday, The Toronto Star drew attention to video of him denying that he used crack when news of the video first surfaced in May.

Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denying crack cocaine use in May.