Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is drawing criticism once again, this time for using explicit sexual language today during an impromptu news conference outside his office to defend himself against the latest allegations.
Ford began by saying he plans to sue several people, including three former staffers in his office, who spoke to police as part of an investigation involving the city's chief magistrate.
Police documents relating to that investigation contain a number of allegations against Ford, including that the mayor targeted his former special assistant, Olivia Gondek, in crude sexual remarks on the evening of St. Patrick's Day 2012.
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Ford responded to that accusation on Thursday morning, before the throng of reporters who have gathered daily outside his office.
"Oh and the last thing was, um, Olivia Gondek. It says that I wanted to eat her p---y. Olivia Gondek, I've never said that in my life to her. I would never do that," he said, in comments that were broadcast live on television. "I'm happily married — I've got more than enough to eat at home."
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly weighed in on Ford's statement minutes later.
"When pressed, the mayor reverts to the language of the locker-room," Kelly told CBC News. "While that may be appropriate to the locker-room and maybe a fraternal get-together at a frat house, it's not language one would expect of the mayor in a public setting."
Ford defends comments
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who sponsored a motion urging Ford to take a leave of absence, called Ford's language "completely unacceptable" and said it was time the mayor resigned.
"He used the P-word in a very derogatory way," Minnan-Wong said.
"The mayor of our city should not be using language like that; he shouldn't be speaking about women like that."
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Reaction form Ford's colleagues was equally swift online.
"Due to his own making, Rob Ford is now mayor of Toronto in title only," tweeted Coun. Josh Matlow. "His behaviour has been cruel, dishonest and deeply offensive to so many."
Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti, one of Ford's closest allies, is threatening to pull his support for the mayor.
"If the mayor doesn't seek help immediately, after today's antics, if he does not go for treatment as I've asked him to do, he's lost me with support as well," Mammoliti told reporters.
Ford was unapologetic, standing by his comments later in council chambers.
"If you're offended, I'm not apologizing, because put yourself in my shoes if someone said that about your husband or your wife," he shouted.
Many councillors turned their back on Ford in protest, as he addressed them.
Public apology from mayor
At midday, Ford held a second news conference alongside his wife, in which he apologized for his earlier remarks and said the allegations concerning his behaviour had pushed him "over the line."
But the apology failed to stop the barrage of criticism from others on city council or elsewhere.
"Finally people see the disrespect Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has for women," Coun. Sarah Thomson wrote on Facebook Thursday afternoon.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne also released a statement concerning "the ongoing situation" in Toronto, saying that the province could intervene if City Council were to "clearly indicate that they lack the ability to function as a result of this matter.
"Toronto is greater than one politician or one government," Wynne told reporters. "I understand that people are affected by what is happening at this moment. But I want the people of Toronto to know that we will not be defined by this."
Dr. Kara Santokie, project director of Toronto Women's City Alliance, said she was shocked, saddened and disappointed by Ford's comments.
"It's not what we would expect of our democratically elected leader. And it certainly is indicative that the mayor is not respectful of women and that he seems to regard women as objects."
Meanwhile, the Toronto Argonauts distanced itself from the mayor, who was wearing the team's jersey at city hall on Thursday morning.
"The situation with respect to the mayor and his leadership is unseemly at best. These latest remarks, while wearing our team's jersey, are particularly disappointing given our organization's work in the community to help youth deal with issues of bullying prevention," the statement said.
"We hope for the benefit of the wonderful citizens of Toronto and this great city that this situation is resolved expeditiously."
With files from The Canadian Press