TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford vowed Friday to take City Council to court after it voted overwhelmingly to strip him of some of his powers over his admitted drug use, public drinking and increasingly erratic behavior.
Then, in a flash of remorse, the 44-year-old Ford declared: “If I would have had a mayor conducting themselves the way I have, I would have done exactly the same thing.”
The motion, approved in a 39-3 vote, suspends Ford’s authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee, which runs the budget process. The council also voted to give the deputy mayor authority to handle any civic emergency. The effort is to continue Monday when the council moves to strip the mayor of most of his remaining powers.
The votes capped another frenzied week of twists and turns in a scandal that has consumed Canada’s largest city and financial capital for months.
Newly released court documents show the mayor became the subject of a police investigation after news reports surfaced in May that he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine. In interviews with police, former staffers accused the mayor of frequently drinking, driving while intoxicated and making sexual advances toward a female staffer.
Most City Council members are frustrated by Ford’s refusal to step aside, but they lack the authority to force him from office unless he is convicted of a crime and jailed.
Ford’s mood swings were on full display Friday as he defiantly vowed to fight the motion in court, then conceded he understood why the council took the measures.
“I’m not mad at anybody. I take full responsibility,” Ford said.
The mayor, a conservative who touts his efforts to curb public spending and keep taxes low, later made it clear he intends to seek re-election next year.
“Councilors spoke today. The taxpayers of this great city will have their say Oct. 27,” Ford told a crush of reporters at City Hall, referring to next year’s municipal elections. Nearby, a few hecklers shouted, “Resign! Resign!”
The mayor of North America’s fourth-largest city said he didn’t care that many council members were laughing at him, noting he won a large mandate in the 2010 election and was laughed at for years as a councilman before being elected mayor.