Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to buying illegal drugs in the last two years amid a heated and raucous city council meeting Wednesday in which nearly every legislator stood up and called on him to step down.
The embattled mayor, who last week told reporters that he smoked crack cocaine — probably "in one of my drunken stupors" — made the confession under direct questioning by members of the Toronto City Council.
Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who introduced one of two motions in the council designed to minimize Ford's authority and shunt the mayor out of the limelight, asked Ford if he has bought illegal drugs within the last two years.
After taking a long pause, Ford said: "Yes. I have." It marked the first time the mayor, for months dogged by unseemly allegations, acknowledged having purchased narcotics.
In a rare sign of contrition for an otherwise defiant and bombastic political personality, Ford said: “I understand the embarrassment that I have caused. I am humiliated by it.”
The 44-member legislative body is reviewing a motion calling on Ford to take a leave of absence. The council has no authority to oust the mayor from office because he has not been convicted of a crime, although lawmakers said the vote packs a strong symbolic punch.
"Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence," Councilor Jaye Robinson said in the council chamber, reading from an open letter to Ford in the council chamber.
The body voted 41-2 to accept the letter Wednesday, with Ford casting one of the opposing votes — and his brother, Councilor Doug Ford, siding with the majority.
With a scrum of reporters and onlookers standing on the sidelines, the crowded chamber applauded when Robinson finished her speech. "Let's get on with city business," she said.
“I’m most definitely keeping this job,” Ford said later. “I am not leaving here. I’m going to sit here and going to attend every meeting.”
During direct questioning, Ford claimed he is not addicted to alcohol or drugs, adding that he has gotten drunk or high strictly "out of sheer stupidity" on a handful of occasions.
He said he is a “positive role model for kids who are down and out” — not a crackhead.
Tensions flared repeatedly over the course of the session. The Ford brothers verbally sparred with Minnan-Wong as the crowd shouted, "Boo, boo!"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
First published November 13 2013, 9:33 AM