TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he had a couple of beers at a street festival Friday night but contended videos that have sparked a torrent of criticism are being blown out of proportion.
“I drove myself down there, I was not drinking. I went out, had a few beers and I did not drive home. My people met me after that,” Ford told his weekly radio show on NewsTalk 1010.
Three videos posted on YouTube on Friday by someone with the handle Adrain Soso, show the mayor apparently enjoying a night on the town and bantering with residents.
Many people took to Twitter in response to the video posting to criticize and ridicule the mayor, accusing him of being drunk and scolding his behaviour.
“Yet another public shame from our mayor,” one person posted on Twitter.
But Ford says he doesn’t think he did anything that would offend anyone.
“Did I have a couple beers, absolutely I had a couple beers,” Ford said.
“I had a good time, I let my hair down.”
His brother, Coun. Doug Ford, suggested on the same radio show that his brother did not have too much to drink.
“You seemed all right,” Doug Ford said.
“Rob and I are average guys, we go down to a festival, we have a couple of beers,” said Doug Ford, who added there were police officers in the area who saw them.
Mayor Ford’s behaviour has attracted international attention since news reports surfaced this year of an alleged video that appeared to show him smoking crack cocaine.
Reporters for two media outlets say they were shown the video, but it has never surfaced publicly.
Ford has denied he uses cocaine and has said he can’t comment on a video that does not exist.
There have been media reports in the past of Ford appearing intoxicated in public. In May the Toronto Star reported allegations that Ford showed up drunk at an official function. At the time Ford dismissed the report as nothing but “lies” and his brother added he’s never seen the mayor drink at any event.
In 2006, before Ford was mayor, he admitted he had too much to drink and verbally abused a couple at a Toronto Maple Leafs game after initially denying the incident.
In 2010, Ford recounted an incident from the 90’s where he was charged with driving under the influence and marijuana possession. Ford at first denied the allegations, but later pleaded no-contest to the impaired driving charge and the drug charge was dropped.