THE mayor of Canada’s largest city, Toronto, is to take an immediate leave of absence to seek help for alcoholism as a report surfaced about a second video of him apparently smoking crack cocaine.
Rob Ford, 44, said he would also take leave from his campaign for re-election. One of his rivals called on him to resign.
In a statement, Mr Ford said: “I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time.
“I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100 per cent committed to getting myself right.”
The Globe and Mail paper said it has viewed a second video of Mr Ford smoking crack in his sister’s basement.
The paper said two reporters viewed the footage, from a drug dealer, showing Ford inhaling from a crack pipe early on Saturday.
The video is part “of a package of three videos the dealer said was surreptitiously filmed around 1:15am and which he says he is now selling for ‘at least six figures’”, the paper reported.
Ford did not mention the reported video in his statement.
John Tory, 59, a conservative former broadcaster running against Mr Ford in the October poll, said he should step down. He said: “Like Torontonians across the city, I am deeply disappointed by these revelations of Mayor Ford’s behaviour. For the good of the city, I call on Mayor Ford to resign.”
News reports of the existence of an earlier video of the mayor smoking crack first surfaced last May.
Mr Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, said he had spoken to the mayor. “He acknowledges he has a substance abuse problem and he wants to do something about it,” he said.
Mr Ford acknowledged last year after months of denials that he smoked crack in a “drunken stupor” after police said they had a video of him doing so. The video has never been released.
The Toronto Sun said on Wednesday it had obtained an audio recording of Mr Ford making offensive remarks about other politicians at a bar on Monday night.
Mr Ford has refused to resign, despite mounting pressure after a string of incidents, from public drunkenness to an appearance in another video that showed him threatening “murder” in an incoherent rant.
Toronto’s city council has stripped him of most of his powers, handing them to deputy mayor Norm Kelly, 72.
His behaviour has sparked a series of election posters promoting fake candidates with outlandish slogans.
They include: “Vote Ray Faranzi: The current mayor threatens to kill people and gets publicly drunk – if elected I will just get publicly drunk.
And: “Elect Jeff McElroy: He promises to just smoke pot as mayor – not crack.”
However Mr Ford, a right-wing populist, continues to be supported by many voters in Toronto, a city of 5.1 million.
Last month polls showed Olivia Chow, 57, a left-wing candidate, leading the pack with 34 per cent, followed by Mr Ford at 27 per cent, and Mr Tory at 24 per cent.
Karen Stintz, 43, a centre-right candidate running on the issue of a new subway line, and former centre-right city budget chief David Soknacki, 50, lag behind at 6 and 4 per cent.
Morgan Baskin, 18, a secondary pupil, is also running for mayor and pledging an end of divisive city hall politics.
Mr Ford acknowledged “rocky moments over the past year” during his campaign launch this month but vowed to fight harder to win re-election.
The mayor, who was the first to register as a candidate in January, said in his statement yesterday: “I love the people of Toronto, I love being your mayor and I hope you will continue to stand by me.”