Toronto (Canada) (AFP) – Toronto’s disgraced mayor, who has admitted to smoking crack and binge drinking, said he’s “not perfect” and takes full responsibility for the embarrassment he’s caused.
But, in interviews with U.S. broadcasters aired Tuesday, a defiant Rob Ford — who on Monday was stripped of most of his remaining powers — disputed he has an alcohol problem.
“I’ve embarrassed not just myself, my family, my friends, my supporters, the whole city,” Ford told NBC‘s Today show.
“I take full responsibility for that. We’ve all made mistakes … I’m not perfect.”
However, when asked if he was in an alcohol treatment program, the mayor said: “No, I have a weight issue. Have been training every day.”
In remarks to ABC‘s “Good Morning America” show, also aired Tuesday, he pledged to reform his behavior but noted that “talk is cheap.”
“Come back in five months. If you don’t see a difference, you can say, Rob, I don’t believe you,” he said. “Go take a drug test or urine test or alcohol test. No problem.”
In the latest chapter of an ugly, embarrassing saga in Canada’s biggest city and economic hub, Ford on Monday was largely reduced to a figurehead by the city council — but he again refused to step down.
Ford has spoken of taking court action and said the only judgment he should face is that of voters at the ballot box next year.
“This is going to be outright war,” said the mayor, who has faced a swell of outrage over a litany of misdeeds, both admitted and alleged, since police revealed they had video footage of him smoking crack.
Ford admitted he had smoked the drug and apologized for his antics, including what he described as his many “drunken stupors.”
New allegations of misconduct and his lewd remarks in denying sexual harassment claims deepened the scandal, prompting widespread calls for his resignation.
However, in an interview aired late Monday with public broadcaster CBC, Ford said he had not touched alcohol in three weeks and would never drink again.
Debate over the motion to curb the mayor’s powers was marked by rowdy outbursts and argumentative to-and-fro between councilors and Ford’s dwindling band of supporters.
While the council overwhelmingly voted to cut the mayor’s budget and staff, a few expressed concerns, saying it is “illegal and anti-democratic,” “craziness” and de facto removing the mayor from office.
“This is a modern-day overthrow of an elected official. This is wrong,” said the mayor’s brother.
The mayor now maintains a smaller office budget and a handful of aides, and keeps a seat on the city’s executive council.
He can also still attend official functions as mayor. But his deputy assumes most of his other responsibilities.
The prime minister’s office said it “does not condone illegal drug use, especially by elected officials while in office,” but added it would continue to work with Ford.
Others praised the unprecedented move.
“We have clipped his wings. His ability to do damage at city council now is curtailed,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc.