Crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford claims he is ‘a role model for down and out kids’

Unless the provincial legislature changes the law, which is highly unlikely, Toronto’s City Council has no means to force Mr Ford to leave

The good members of Toronto’s City Council needn’t have bothered. Today they extracted yet one more admission from their disgraced Mayor Rob Ford, that, yes, in the past two years he had purchased illegal drugs. But then he protested he was “a positive role model for kids who are down and out”.

Two things were thus demonstrated again. Mr Ford, elected three years ago, has ample and equal reserves of obstinacy and self-delusion. And the council, however much it might have right on its side in suggesting that he take responsibility for his actions, has no power to force him to do so.

It was the first full meeting of the council of Canada’s largest city since Mr Ford conceded last week the truth of what the website Gawker and The Toronto Star had seen in a video six months ago. On one occasion, in a “drunken stupor”, he used crack cocaine. The indignation-meter, fuelled further by another video that surfaced last week showing Ford threatening to kill someone, was going through the ceiling.

“Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence,” Jaye Robinson, a councillor, said, brandishing a petition to that effect that had been joined by 41 of the 43 members present for the debate. “Over the last six months and especially the last few weeks we have grown increasingly concerned by the seemingly endless cycle of allegations, denials and belated admissions about your behaviour.” In case Mr Ford wasn’t getting the message, another councillor, Denzil Minnan-Wong, introduced a motion that would demand he take a leave of absence to allow the city to gather itself, apologise to the Toronto citizenry and co-operate with police. Even Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, previously loyal to Mr Ford, sided with the motion. “I’m publicly advising the Mayor to take some time,” he said.

Assailed from all sides, Mr Ford attempted contrition. After replying “yes, I have” to the narcotics question posed by Mr Minnan-Wong, Mr Ford said: “I understand the embarrassment that I have caused. I am humiliated by it.” But it was over quickly. “I’m most definitely keeping this job. I am not leaving here. I’m going to sit here and going to attend every meeting.”

Unless the provincial legislature changes the law – highly unlikely – the council has no means to force Mr Ford to leave. Even after Toronto Police announced it had found the crack video in question, officers said it did not amount to sufficient evidence for prosecution.

Mr Ford, who has built a record of taming the municipal unions and cutting the city’s budget, has even said he intends to run again in elections next year and there is no saying that the conservative swell from the suburbs that gave him the keys to it in the first place won’t do so again. That presumably is how he comes up with the notion that he is a fine example for “down and out kids”. Keep standing, no matter what.

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