Toronto mayor Rob Ford has claimed to have had a “come to Jesus moment” and says he’s “finished” with alcohol and doesn’t take drugs any more.
In an interview with Canada’s CBC News after he was stripped of almost all his powers by fellow councillors, Mr Ford told its chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge, that he last used crack cocaine “about a year ago”.
He also said he hadn’t consumed alcohol for three weeks and plans never to drink again.
“There’s a lot of people who have done what I’ve done,” he said. “I’m a human being, Peter.
“If you don’t see a difference in me in five months, then I’ll eat my words. I’ve had a come-to-Jesus moment, if you want to call it that.”
He added: “I’ve let my dad down – I know he’s upstairs watching this.”
Toronto city council voted overwhelmingly on Monday to slash Mr Ford’s office budget by 60 per cent and allow his staff to join the deputy mayor, Norm Kelly. Mr Ford effectively has no legislative power, as he will no longer chair the executive committee, though he retains his title and ability to represent Toronto at official functions.
In an interview yesterday on ABC’s Good Morning America, Mr Ford accused fellow councillors of attacking him for personal reasons and suggested many of them were guilty of the same behaviour he has admitted to.
“All they did was stab me in the back over issues, the same issues that I’ve admitted to that they do, but nobody knows about it,” he said.
Despite apologising for his drug use and drinking, Mr Ford has remained defiant in the face of pressure to resign since news reports emerged months ago that he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine.
He and his brother, city councillor Doug Ford, have frequently lashed out at journalists and politicians, demanding to know whether they ever used drugs, got behind the wheel drunk or otherwise misbehaved.
The mayor has suggested in the past that other councillors are on drugs but that he is “not a rat” and will not name them.
Monday’s council session was one of the stormiest in memory, as the burly mayor argued with colleagues and members of the public and at one point knocked down a female councillor as he charged toward one of his hecklers. Cries of “Shame!” came from the public gallery.
The mayor, a conservative elected three years ago on promises to curb public spending and keep taxes low, vowed “outright war” to take on his critics in next year’s election.
The debate became heated after Mr Ford paced around the council chamber and traded insults with onlookers. The speaker asked security to clear the gallery and a recess was called, but not before the mayor had charged toward his detractors, mowing into councillor Pam McConnell, who is in her 60s.
Another councillor asked Mr Ford to apologise, at which he said he had been rushing to the defence of his brother and accidentally knocked Ms McConnell down.
The council does not have the power to remove Mr Ford from office unless he is convicted of a crime. Its members pursued the strongest recourse available to them, after recent revelations that the mayor smoked crack cocaine and his repeated outbursts of erratic behaviour.