Mayor Rob Ford is apologizing to Torontonians for "mistakes" he has made, but says he will not be leaving office, despite the fact that police have recovered a controversial video that allegedly shows the city’s chief magistrate using crack cocaine.
Speaking on his weekly radio show on Sunday afternoon, Ford called on the city’s police chief to release the controversial video that investigators obtained during a series of raids earlier this year.
"I’ve been thinking for a long time of what I’m going to say today," Ford said on Newstalk 1010.
"And first of all, I believe that this video, I want the police chief, Bill Blair, to release this video for every single person in this city to see. That is the right thing to do and chief, I am asking you to release this video now."
The mayor said the video should be released, so that "whatever this video shows… people need to judge for themselves what they see on this video."
His remarks came just three days after Blair confirmed in a news conference that investigators retrieved a video from a seized hard drive that features the mayor. Blair said the video was "consistent" with descriptions of the mayor smoking from a crack pipe, as reported by U.S. gossip website Gawker and the Toronto Star.
Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash told CBC News on Sunday that the position of the police has not changed, with respect to the release of the video.
Last week, the city’s police chief said that it is the job of investigators to gather evidence, but it is courts that decide whether that evidence is admissible and also whether it is made public.
Mayor admits ‘mistakes’
When the reports about the video first emerged in May, Ford denied both using crack cocaine and the video’s existence.
On Sunday, Ford apologized for unspecified "mistakes," though he did not initially elaborate on what they were.
"I'm the first one to admit, friends, I'm the first one to admit, I am not perfect. I have made mistakes ... and all I can do right now is apologize for the mistakes," he said.
About an hour into his radio show, however, Ford made specific reference to his behaviour at public events — including at the Taste of the Danforth street festival during the summer.
"I’ve made mistakes, like, where do I begin?" Ford said. "For example, the Danforth, that was pure stupidity. I shouldn’t have got hammered down at the Danforth. If you’re going to have a couple of drinks, you stay at home and that’s it, you don’t make a public spectacle of yourself."
Ford also referred to things getting "a little out of control" on St. Patrick’s Day.
While he said he intended to make changes in his life, Ford said he couldn’t “mislead people” by telling them he will be perfect in future.
"To sit here and say: ‘You know, I’m going to lose 100 pounds and I’m going to be a brand new person in six months, or a year,’ I’m not going to mislead people," he said.
"I’m going to do my very best to make sure these mistakes don’t happen again. And I don’t know what else to say."
Ford won’t step down
The mayor made no mention of any plans to step down, or take a leave of absence.
"I am going to ride the storm out and just keep doing what I was elected to do," Ford said.
During his radio show, Ford reiterated his intention to run for a second term next year. He has said he is expecting the coming campaign to be "a bloodbath."
So far, Coun. Karen Stintz, the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, has said she intends to challenge the mayor for his job in next year’s municipal election. Former city councillor David Soknacki is also set to run.
Well before the mayor’s radio show ended, several members of city council were reacting to his comments on Twitter.
Two members of council said that Ford should step down:
Toronto needs a new mayor.— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) November 3, 2013
As I said 6 months ago - stepping aside is in the best interest of the City, the Mayor and his family. #topoli— Jaye Robinson (@JayeRobinson) November 3, 2013
Coun. Shelley Carroll suggested the mayor’s call for the video to be released was a disingenuous one, as she said it is clear the police are unable to do that:
The mayor also took calls from members of the public, including one from an 81-year-old woman who said Ford should be looking at a leave of absence.
"I want you to take a medical leave … just a medical leave, I’m asking for you to do this," the caller said.
"You need it."
On Sunday afternoon, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said he believed Ford’s comments were "the first step in the new direction" for the mayor.
"I think he’s set the bar high for himself, there will not a repeat of all the things that you’ve seen," Kelly told CBC News Network in a telephone interview just after the mayor’s radio show ended.
Kelly said he was urging his council colleagues to give the mayor a second chance and an opportunity "to prove himself."
Kelly met with the mayor on Saturday to talk about concerns that some of his colleagues had about his behaviour.
The deputy mayor said that he believed Ford had now delivered apologizes that some councillors had called for, and also agreed to get a driver — something that councillors and police had called upon him to do in the past.
While the mayor did say he apologized for some mistakes, he also made a comment that suggested he believed that it was not right for other politicians to point fingers about bad behaviour.
"I know a lot of things about a lot of politicians, but I’m not a rat and I don't squeal on people," Ford said, near the end of his radio show.
"So, anyways, it’s not about them, it’s about me. I made the mistake, I own up to it and let’s move on here."
Coun. Joe Mihevc said the mayor’s apology wasn’t enough. But he said Ford’s opponents will have their chance to demonstrate their disapproval with him at the ballot box.
"I think democracy brought the mayor in and it looks like we have to wait a year for democracy to basically take him out, if that’s what Torontonians want," Mihevc told CBC News Network.
Controversial three years
Ford has served as the mayor of Toronto for the past three years. Prior to that, he was a city councillor in a ward in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke.
Since taking on the job as mayor, Ford has often drawn headlines both for his work at city hall and his life outside of it.
He faced a removal challenge relating to a conflict-of-interest issue, which led to a judge ordering him removed from office. But Ford won an appeal and held onto his job.
Ford has had a testy relationship with the city’s media at times, particularly over the last few months.
On Sunday, the mayor reiterated a request that the media not come to his house when pursuing stories about him.
"I just want to say one thing to the media and I’ve said this before — I beg you, I plead with you: Please, please, please do not come to my front door and stand on my driveway," he said.
Last Thursday, Ford confronted several members of the media who were standing on his driveway, before he left for city hall.