OTTAWA – “Get help.”
That was the advice for Rob Ford from Canada’s federal party leaders and at least one cabinet minister following the Toronto mayor’s bombshell admission he has smoked crack cocaine.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau both said Tuesday on Parliament Hill they hope Ford seeks treatment for his demons.
“I look forward to seeing Rob Ford get the help he obviously needs,” said Trudeau.
The Liberal leader was the alleged target of some Ford slurs on a video that Toronto police indicate shows the mayor sucking on a crack pipe.
Trudeau declined to compare his own admission that he smoked marijuana with Ford’s confession, even as at least one Tory MP did.
“I’m not going to politicize. I’m not going to look for a political advantage or defence in this. I have been honest and forthright in my own decisions, my political decisions,” Trudeau said.
Mulcair said Ford should deal with the havoc his actions have caused.
“I sincerely hope Mr. Ford will do the right thing for Toronto and the right thing for himself, which includes taking care of himself properly,” he said.
The advice came on yet another stunning day of developments in Canada’s biggest city. Ford confessed during a news conference that he had smoked crack while in a “drunken stupor,” following months of denials from the mayor and his brother, Doug.
“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” he said. “But no, do I, am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.”
A few hours later, an emotional Ford emerged from his office to apologize to the people of Toronto and his family though he did not resign.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay called the events a “sad day” for Toronto, adding that he, too, thinks Ford needs help.
“I’m the attorney general of Canada. I’m the justice minister. You know where I stand on the use of illegal drugs,” he said outside the House of Commons.
“As a human being, I think that the mayor of Toronto needs to get help.”
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, meantime, who has close ties to Ford and his family, declined to comment as he entered the House of Commons.
Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, the onetime head of the Ontario Provincial Police and a longtime law-and-order advocate, also refused to wade in.
“You can try to frame all the links that you want,” he said, bristling at suggestions the Ford saga is an embarrassment to the Conservative government. “I don’t have the facts to infuse myself into this affair.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ford have had a cosy relationship over the years, culminating with the pair enjoying a fishing trip together at Harrington Lake, Que., shortly after the Tories won re-election in 2011. The prime minister later attended a barbecue hosted by Ford and praised the mayor.
“Rob is doing something very important that needs to be done here. He is cleaning up the NDP mess here in Toronto, so that’s great,” the prime minister said at the Toronto event.
Industry Minister Joe Oliver sought to distance his government from the mayor, denying there was any particularly close relationship.
“No, no. It’s false,” Oliver said. “That is what some people pretend. But we have a good relationship with all the municipal governments and we’re going to continue to discuss important issues with all of them.”
One Conservative MP, meantime, equated Ford’s crack use with Trudeau’s admission he had smoked marijuana.
“Didn’t Trudeau say something about smoking marijuana?” Leon Benoit responded when asked what he thought about Ford’s confession.
Asked whether he believed being a big-city mayor and smoking crack was the same thing as being young and smoking weed, Benoit replied: “Pretty much.”