TORONTO – Rob Ford will take a leave of absence from his re-election campaign to seek help for substance abuse, his lawyer said Wednesday as new media reports involving drugs and alcohol emerged.
Dennis Morris said the Toronto mayor “realizes he needs help for substance abuse,” but would not specify which substance his client is seeking treatment for or what steps he will take.
“In my eyes, he should announce those steps to the public in the near future,” Morris said.
The Toronto Sun, which carried quotes from the mayor about his decision to go get help, reported Ford will nonetheless remain on the ballot for the Oct. 27 mayoral election. The mayor has staunchly refused to step down despite the controversy swirling around him.
The announcement came as both the Sun and the Globe and Mail published fresh allegations about the mayor.
The Globe said two of its reporters viewed a new video of Ford smoking what the newspaper said was described as crack cocaine by a self-professed drug dealer. The Globe said the video was secretly filmed in Ford’s sister’s basement early Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, the Sun reported it obtained an audio recording of the mayor “being unruly as he’s ordering booze” and making “lewd comments” about one of his election rivals at a west Toronto bar.
Morris, Ford’s lawyer, did not respond to a later call seeking comment on the reports that emerged Wednesday evening.
Ford has denied allegations that he is addicted to drugs or alcohol, though he has admitted having used crack cocaine while in a “drunken stupor” during his tenure.
Shortly afterward, city council voted to relieve Ford of many of his mayoral powers.
The mayor also admitted he had been drinking during an incident in which he was filmed using Jamaican swear words and other profanities at a Toronto restaurant.
He vowed last year that he had given up alcohol — part of a campaign to rehabilitate his image in light of his admission.
His family had previously backed up his assertions and his decision not to resign or take an official leave.
Media reports of a cellphone video on which Ford appears to smoke crack cocaine first appeared last May, and sparked a police probe dubbed Project Brazen 2.
But at that time, a guns, gangs and weapons probe called Project Traveller was already well underway. It included wiretaps that allegedly captured conversations about the video.
Police also believe that a widely published photo showing Ford posing with three men — one shot dead shortly after the photo was taken and the other two accused gang members — was taken outside an alleged crack house.