Toronto mayor admits crack cocaine use

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TORONTO -- Mayor Rob Ford, facing mounting calls to resign after allegations of drug use, Tuesday admitted for the first time publicly that he had smoked crack cocaine, likely when he was drunk.

"Yes I have smoked crack cocaine," Mr. Ford, 44, said at city hall in a news conference broadcast by CP24 television. "Probably in one of my drunken stupors."

Mr. Ford's admission comes amid pressure for him to resign after Toronto police last week said they had found a video that showed the mayor of Canada's biggest city appearing to inhale from a glass pipe. The Toronto Star and U.S. website Gawker were the first to report on the video in May, sparking a five-month police investigation that included airplane surveillance and cameras mounted on poles tracking Mr. Ford's movements. At the time, the mayor said he didn't smoke crack, and that he couldn't comment on a video he had not seen.

Mr. Ford, who apologized Sunday for being "hammered" at a street party in August and for being in his office at 2 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day with a half-empty bottle of brandy, vowed to curb his drinking and get a driver. He has said repeatedly that he has no plans to resign.

The mayor repeated that vow Tuesday and said he would not take a leave of absence, according to the Toronto Sun newspaper. "I feel like I got 1,000 pounds off my back," Mr. Ford told the Toronto Sun, according to a report on its website. "I felt I had to say it. It is what is. I feel 2 inches high right now, but I needed to deal with it. I am not going to quit or take a leave."

Several city councilors and at least three Toronto newspapers had previously urged the mayor to step aside, and Councilor Jaye Robinson repeated that call Tuesday. "Right now, he does not have a shred of credibility," she said at city hall in an interview on CP24. "If he really cares about Toronto, and he really wants to do what's in the best interest of Toronto and himself and his family, he needs to step aside."

Mr. Ford was elected in October 2010 on a promise to "stop the gravy train" at city hall amid support from Toronto's outer suburbs, parts of which became known as "Ford Nation." He cut council budgets and outsourced half the city's residential waste collection to private industry. He eliminated a vehicle registration fee and waged a battle to expand the city's transit through subways.

With a population of 2.79 million, Toronto has overtaken Chicago as the fourth-largest North American city, according to a statement from the city in March. It is amidst a building boom, with hundreds of high rises under construction. Home to the nation's five largest banks, two of the biggest insurers and its largest wireless operator, Toronto's economy is driven by financial services.


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