TORONTO – A new video that surfaced Thursday showed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford threatening to “murder” someone and “poke his eyes out” in a rambling rage, deepening the conviction among both critics and allies that he is no longer fit to lead North America’s fourth largest city.
The mayor told reporters moments after the video was posted online that he was “extremely, extremely inebriated” in it and “embarrassed” by it. The context of the video is unknown and it’s unclear who the target of Ford’s wrath is. The video, which appeared at length on the Toronto Star’s website and in clips on the Toronto Sun’s website, prompted another round of calls for Ford to step down.
The controversy surrounding Ford escalated last week when police announced they had obtained a different, long-sought video that shows Ford smoking a crack pipe. After months of evading the question, Ford admitted Tuesday to smoking crack in a “drunken stupor” about a year ago.
Despite immense pressure, the mayor of Canada’s financial capital has refused to resign or take a leave of absence.
Ford, who is married with two school-age children, said Thursday he made mistakes and “all I can do is reassure the people. I don’t know what to say.”
“When you are in that state ... I hope none of you have ever or will ever be in that state,” said Ford, who is 44.
“It’s extremely embarrassing. The whole world is going to see it.”
In the new video, a visibly agitated Ford paces around, frantically waves his arms and rolls up his sleeves as he says he’ll “make sure” the unknown person is dead.
Ford tells another person in the room, possibly the man filming the video, that he wants to “kill” someone in an expletive-laced rant. “Cause I’m going to kill that (expletive) guy,” Ford says. “No holds barred brother. He dies or I die.”
At one point he says “My brothers are, don’t tell me we’re liars, thieves, birds” and then later refers to “80-year-old birds.”
The Toronto Star said that it purchased the video for $5,000 from “a source who filmed it from someone else’s computer” and the paper said it was told “the person with the computer was there in the room.”
City Councilor James Pasternak urged Ford to make a “dignified exit.”
“The video is very disturbing,” he said. “It’s very upsetting, it’s very sad.”
City Councilor Giorgio Mammoliti, a Ford ally, urged the mayor to enter rehab and said in a statement he fears “that if the mayor does not get help now he will succumb to health issues related to addiction.”
Ford lawyer Dennis Morris told The Associated Press the context of the video “is skeletal.”
“What we have to do is find out when it was taken,” he said. “Was it taken eight, 10 months ago or a short time ago? I’m going to try to find that out too.”
Earlier Thursday, Morris said he was in talks with the police for Ford to view the video that appears show the mayor smoking crack. Morris said previously that Ford was willing to view the tape but would not answer questions.
Police obtained that video in the course of a drug investigation into the mayor’s friend and occasional driver. They have not charged Ford, saying the video doesn’t provide enough evidence against him.
The mayor’s travails were taking their toll on his supporters. Canada’s finance minister became emotional when asked about Ford, a longtime friend.
Ford, who grew up in a wealthy and politically influential family, was elected to City Hall three years ago on a wave of conservative backlash in Toronto’s outer suburbs against perceived wasteful spending.
But city councilors say they have been mostly working around Ford since he took office. The mayor’s power is more limited in Toronto than in many large U.S. cities; he has just one vote on a council of 44 members.
Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor’s forced removal from office unless he’s convicted and jailed for a criminal offence.
City Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Ford’s executive committee, said Thursday he plans to amend a motion he has filed that would ask Ford to take a leave of absence. The amendment takes the unprecedented step of asking the province of Ontario to pass legislation to remove the mayor if he does not agree to take a leave of absence. The measure could be voted on next Wednesday.
The province, however, has no plans to step in and amend the law to allow Ford to be forced from office, Ontario Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey reaffirmed Thursday.
Premier Kathleen Wynne has said she’s concerned that Ford’s personal issues were making it difficult for the city to carry on normally. But she said it was up to police, the courts or the mayor to take action.
Ford acknowledged a drinking problem for the first time Sunday, saying on his radio show that he was “hammered” in public at a street festival in August and “out of control” drunk, carrying a half empty bottle of brandy around city hall after St. Patrick’s Day last year.
The allegations about Ford smoking crack first emerged earlier this year when reporters from the Toronto Star and the U.S. website Gawker separately said they saw that video, but they did not obtain a copy.
The mayor has called on police to release the crack tape, but police said they are prohibited from doing so because it is evidence before the courts. Police said the video will come out when Lisi goes to trial on drug and extortion charges.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair has also said police have a second tape, but he has declined to discuss what’s on it. Police spokesman Mark Pugash told the AP the video released Thursday is not the tape Blair talked about.