Pressure mounts on Toronto mayor after crack admission

The mayor's brothers urges him to take a short break.

SMOKED CRACK. A cellphone video surfaces of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack. EPA/Warren Toda

TORONTO, Canada – Toronto’s embattled Mayor Rob Ford faced mounting pressure Friday to step down, as his lawyer said he was considering addiction treatment after admitting to smoking crack and problems with alcohol.

The 44-year-old Ford said earlier this week that he had once smoked crack while in a “drunken stupor” – a stunning confession after months of denials, and one that threw his political future into question.

Treatment is “an option he has to consider and he will be considering,” Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris told public broadcaster CBC.

The mayor’s brother Doug, a Toronto city councilor and arguably his staunchest supporter, urged Ford to take a short break.

“If Rob goes away on a little vacation, a week, two weeks, comes back, loses 50 or 60 pounds, and stays on the straight and narrow… it will be very tough to beat Rob Ford” in the October 2014 municipal election, he told local radio station AM640.

Earlier, Ford’s sister Kathy insisted he was “not an addict,” telling broadcaster CP24 that he “wouldn’t be able to function” if he were.

She said the mayor did not drink every night, but acknowledged that when he does, “he goes full tilt.”

In the same interview, Ford’s mother Diane called her son’s recent behavior “unacceptable.”

Ford is facing mounting pressure to resign and to seek treatment after admitting this week that he once smoked crack in a “drunken stupor.”

Also this week, new video footage emerged showing him in an agitated state, staggering and making foul-mouthed death threats.

Ford said he had been “extremely, extremely inebriated” when the video, published by the daily Toronto Star on Thursday, was shot.

Ford’s mom: Smarten up but don’t step down

Ford’s mother told CP24 she had told her son, “Rob, you need to smarten up a little bit.”

She said she had urged him to attack his weight problem and “see a counselor, do get help.”

She insisted, however, that Ford should not step down as long as he continues to have strong public support, even as concern shifted from his drug admission to his excessive drinking.

“He’s strong enough to come out of this and deal with his problems,” said his sister Kathy.

A former ally on the city council, Denzil Minnan-Wong, meanwhile expressed the body’s growing impatience with the mayor in a letter to the Toronto Star.

“This is a human being in agony. As a matter of medical urgency, (Ontario) Premier Kathleen Wynne must step in and be mom,” Minnan-Wong wrote.“If he can’t find the exit, I think we need to show him the door.”

The council is expected to vote next week on a motion asking Wynne to step in and remove Ford from office.

Media lawyers, meanwhile, were in court asking for the release of wiretap evidence and seized videos in the prosecution of a Ford friend for his alleged “extortive efforts to retrieve a recording” of Ford’s antics, and of a young man linked to Ford who is facing separate drug charges.

Toronto police have so far released documents detailing months of police surveillance of Ford and his associates. But local media want more pages unsealed.

Ford has not been charged with any crime. – Rappler.com

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