Global Politics

Toronto's Mayor Ford says 'I smoked crack cocaine,' but won't step down

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Rob Ford

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Shaun Merritt/Wikimedia Commons

Rob Ford made waves Tuesday when he first admitted that he smoked crack cocaine.

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Later in the day, he appeared at a news conference where he fought back tears as he apologized for his actions — but vowed to stay on as mayor. Ford said he kept the information from his family, his staff and colleagues because he was embarassed and ashamed. He said he "let the people of Toronto down," but also made it clear he had no intention to resign before Toronto's mayoral election in October, 2014. 

"I want the people of this great city to decide whether they want Rob Ford to be their mayor," he said. "Again, I sincerely, sincerely, sincerely apologize."

The apology was a carefully prepared statement issued late in the day. But Ford's initial admission came as an impromptu statement made to reporters camped outside his office.

"I was completely shocked. We had no idea this was coming," said Robyn Doolittle, a reporter with the Toronto Star. Doolittle was one of the first reporters on the Ford crack cocaine story, back in May.

"The mayor does not speak to the media, ever. He emerged from the elevator and he turned to everybody and he said, 'ask me the question that you asked me last May' — last May being when the Star published its story about the mayor appearing to smoke crack cocaine in the video," she said. "Someone said, 'do you smoke crack cocaine?' And he said, 'yes, I smoke crack cocaine.'"

The air fell out of the room.

"Everyone just started shaking.  It was so unexpected," Doolittle said.

The reporters wanted details, such as when he last smoked, which led to another bombshell.

"... Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago,” he said.

Doolittle said he didn't want to appear like he was lying.

"When he's asked about it, he always says, 'I'm not an addict.' And reporters always point out, 'well, that doesn't mean you haven't smoked it before,'" she said.

Doolittle was one of two reporters with the Toronto Star who viewed the initial video that started the controversy. In the videotape, "it certainly looks like he's holding a crack pipe, but you can't know what he's smoking in that pipe," she said.

Ford has been aggressive with the media.

"He's called my paper pathological liars. He's called us maggots. He's accused the media of not asking the right questions all along," Doolittle said.

No charges have yet been filed against Ford, and it's unclear whether any charges will be filed.

Ford has asked the city to try to move forward. But there are concerns, Doolittle said.

"What does the world think of us that we have this crack scandal brewing here and that he's still the mayor," she said. "So on behalf of my city, I will say Toronto is a lovely, lovely place to visit."