Toronto council maneuvers to reduce Mayor Rob Ford’s powers

Contrite Toronto mayor speaks after power stripped 3:59

The Toronto City Council voted overwhelmingly Friday to strip some powers from Mayor Rob Ford, who has admitted smoking crack in a boozy stupor, buying illegal drugs and driving drunk — but has defiantly refused to resign.

The lawmakers have no authority to remove Ford from office, but they drafted a series of motions to transfer some of his authority to the deputy mayor.

"Obviously I can't support this, and I have no other options but to challenge this in court," Ford said.

He's vowed to run for re-election and has just inked a deal to host a talk show with his brother Doug — a member of the City Council himself — but Ford said he understands why the legislators want him to just go away.

Toronto Mayor's brother 'Binge drinking, smoking crack unacceptable' 2:28

"I completely understand where they're coming from," he said, later adding, "If I would have had a mayor acting the way I've conducted myself, I would have done the same thing."

Doug Ford told NBC News on Friday that his brother had no intention of resigning despite the pressure he's under, which he said has included numerous death threats and threats to assault the mayor's children.

"That's up to the people of the city. That's why we have the democratic process," Doug Ford said. "And we're going to ask the people to decide. If the people want Rob Ford as mayor, they can vote him [back] in." 

There is no visible security presence protecting the mayor. 

Subdued during the morning session, Rob Ford seemed to rebound in the afternoon, even joking at one point in a spirited debate about municipal spending, "I thought we were talking about drinking."

The council passed two measures. The first, which bars him from appointing or removing committee chairs or the deputy mayor, passed 39-3. A second, which curbs his authority during states of emergency, passed 41-2, with only the mayor and his brother voting against it.

"We have been fortunate no emergencies have landed on the same dates when we know the mayor's judgement may have been impaired," council member John Filion said before the vote.

He said the measures — a vote on a third wide-ranging motion will be held Monday — were needed to stabilize a "chaotic situation" and would expire at the end of Ford's term next year.

"If there's a silver lining in this sad situation, it's that this issue has united members of council," he said. "I think this is the only course of action left to us."

At least one council member was worried that the extraordinary moves were overstepping.

"You win the election for mayor, you are the mayor. That is the people's will," Anthony Perruzza said.

"Who can change that? The people. Yes, the premier [of Ontario], maybe the courts. That's it. We are not given by proxy the right to change that, and that is dangerous if we do that."

The repudiation of Ford, 44, came a day after he shocked reporters and viewers by using X-rated language on live television to deny an allegation that he told a female staffer he wanted to perform oral sex on her.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaking at Thursday's City Council meeting. The Council is considering a measure to strip the mayor of some powers. Mark Blinch / Reuters

After the graphic outburst, Ford gave the latest in a growing string of apologies, this one with his wife by his side.

"I used unforgivable language," he said, blaming the "tremendous" stress he's under.

A day earlier, the City Council voted to ask him to take a leave of absence. When he addressed them Thursday, some turned their backs on him.

"This is beyond a leave of absence. He needs to resign," council member Denzil Minnan-Wong said. "This mayor thinks he is above the law. He is not."

Since police confirmed the existence of a videotape that showed him smoking crack, Ford has repeatedly denied that he's an addict but this week admitted to buying illegal drugs during his time in office and said he is seeking help from health professionals.

While he has copped to a staggering array of misdeeds, Ford is fighting back against other allegations, including a claim in court papers that he was "very inebriated, verbally abusive and inappropriate" with a female staffer on St. Patrick's Day and a report that he brought prostitutes to City Hall.

After he was punished by the council Friday, Ford didn't slink off. Instead, he played an active role during the regularly scheduled council meeting, sparring with city officials and lawmakers about a series of proposals and even demanding an apology from a member who heckled him.

Lightly attended under usual circumstances, city council meetings have been routinely packed over the past few weeks, often by international media interested in the Ford saga. 

A few hours after the council votes on whether to delegate more of his powers to the deputy mayor on Monday, Ford will take the airwaves for a new TV show with his brother on the Sun News Network, a conservative-leaning channel.

"Rob is like Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh," Doug Ford said. "You just never know what he is going to say."

Stephanie Gosk of NBC News contributed to this report.

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