Warning, the second video in this post contains strong language.
TORONTO – In the space of a few hours Thursday, Rob Ford spouted an obscenity on live TV, refused to apologize then did apologize, was scolded by Canada’s oldest football team for wearing its jersey while making the remarks, and begged the media to give his family privacy — his seldom-seen-in-public wife by his side.
The latest actions by Toronto’s besieged mayor set off another chorus of demands by politicians for him to leave — not just get help, but to resign for the good of the city.
Ford stubbornly refused.
The dizzying cascade of events began as Ford arrived at city hall — sporting a blue No. 12 Toronto Argonauts uniform with ‘Mayor Ford’ in white letters on the back.
As TV cameras broadcast live, Ford used crude language to deny allegations that he told a female aide he was going to have oral sex with her. A staffer told police Ford also said he had already had sex with the female aide, court documents say.
“I’ve never said that in my life to her, I would never do that,” Ford said to astonished reporters.
“I’m happily married. I’ve got more than enough to eat at home.”
Ford, 44, the father of two children, did say he was receiving support from a team of health-care professionals, but refused to elaborate.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who sponsored a motion Wednesday urging Ford to take a leave of absence, called the mayor’s language “completely unacceptable” and said it was high time he resigned.
“He used the P-word in a very derogatory way,” Minnan-Wong said.
“The mayor of our city should not be using language like that, he shouldn’t be speaking about women like that.”
Initially, Ford stood by his vulgar comments.
“If you’re offended, I’m not apologizing, because put yourself in my shoes if someone said that about your husband or your wife,” he shouted during a council session.
According to sections of court documents released Wednesday, an ex-staffer told police an intoxicated Ford made the vulgar comments at a downtown restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day last year.
The alleged incident was one of several in the document that reported questionable or bizarre behaviour by Ford: drunk driving, sniffing cocaine, and apparently consorting with sex workers.
Ford called the allegations outright lies.
Later in the day, with his wife Renata nearby, the mayor apologized for what he called his impulsive and “graphic” remarks blamed on months of mostly self-inflicted stress culminating in the latest revelations that he said pushed him over the line.
“When you attack my integrity as a father and as a husband, I see red,” he said.
As media trailed her into the city hall basement, Renata Ford came to his defence, saying he did not need to step down, because “that’s why we have elections.”
Ford railed against suggestions that he had taken a woman suspected to be a prostitute to city hall, and denied a woman with him at a restaurant was a paid escort named Alana.
“I don’t appreciate people calling Alana a prostitute,” said Ford, who called her a friend.
“I can’t put up with it any more. Litigation will be starting shortly.”
Ford named three former staffers: chief of staff Mark Towhey, special assistant Isaac Ransom, and spokesman George Christopolous.
He also said he would take action against a waiter who — according to the documents — told police he saw Ford and a woman snorting cocaine in a private room at the restaurant.
Noted libel lawyer Julian Porter said a defamation suit would have little chance of success because people are protected when they talk to police as long as they don’t maliciously invent anything.
Ford did say he “might have” done some drinking and driving but, as he has done frequently, immediately went on the offensive.
“I’m not perfect. Maybe you are but I’m not, OK?” he told journalists. “I know none of you guys have ever, ever had a drink and got behind the wheel.”
Police Chief Bill Blair dodged questions as to why authorities didn’t act if they knew Ford had been drinking and driving.
“Where there is reasonable and probable grounds to lay a charge, that takes place,” Blair said, adding the mayor did not receive special treatment.
The Toronto Argonauts released a statement saying they were “disappointed” at the mayor for using coarse language on live television while wearing the CFL team’s jersey.
Ford’s vulgarity also drew wide condemnation from fellow councillors.
“Absolutely deplorable, disgusting, appalling, unacceptable, offensive, atrocious to our city, to women, to everyone,” said Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon.
“He needs to duct-tape himself.”
On Wednesday, council overwhelmingly passed Minnan-Wong’s motion asking Ford to take a leave.
Council will hold a special meeting Friday to try to strip Ford of his mayoral powers and hand them to the deputy mayor.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said she would consult with the opposition parties before deciding whether to intervene if city council clearly indicates it can’t function as a result of the Ford scandal.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.