Rob Ford says he suffered “a minor setback” on Monday after a video surfaced of the mayor slurring his words and ranting about the police chief.
He admitted that he drank alcohol at the Steak Queen in Etobicoke that evening after the video was released Tuesday and showed Ford apparently incoherent, ranting in Jamaican patois and using profanities — at one point cursing out police Chief Bill Blair.
“We all experience these difficult bumps in life,” he said during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m telling the Toronto residents I’m still working hard every day to improve my health and well-being.”
He also criticized the city budget that the executive committee passed earlier in the afternoon and promised to introduce motions that would save more than $50 million “with little or no impact on services,” at the city council meeting later this month.
But he left the news conference without answering questions such as whether he was using illegal drugs.
While the mayor dodged reporters’ questions, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday that Ford’s personal problems are taking attention away from the real issues facing Toronto.
The premier said she had seen the latest video on television, and read transcripts in the newspapers, but declined to comment on the specifics of Ford’s behaviour.
“To the degree that this discussion about one person’s personal issues can detract and distract from the business of growing Toronto and making sure that Toronto is the best that it can be, then that does concern me,” Wynne told reporters.
“So I hope that Rob Ford is able to get the personal support that he needs.”
Ford was stripped of most of his powers last November after his stunning admission that he had smoked crack cocaine during one of his “drunken stupors,” which came after months of repeated denials of drug use.
Wynne has turned down Ford’s repeated requests for a face-to-face meeting, especially following a pre-Christmas ice storm that caused significant damages in the city, opting instead to deal with Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.
“It is my responsibility to deal with the decision makers at city hall and that’s what I’ve been doing and will continue to do,” said Wynne.
“I will continue to work with Deputy Mayor Kelly, who has been given responsibility by council to be their representative.”
Former prime minister Paul Martin, who appeared with Wynne at a news conference Wednesday to talk about pensions, declined to be drawn into the Ford affair.
“There are really certain great benefits of no longer being in public life, and not answering that question is one of them,” Martin said with a chuckle.
Shortly after the video was posted Tuesday on YouTube, Ford admitted he had been drinking Monday night with his friends, but said it was on his “own time.”
The mayor had repeatedly said he hasn’t had a drink since November.
Earlier Wednesday, Ford plowed through a throng of cameras and reporters as he left a meeting at city hall, refusing to answer any questions about the latest video.
Many Toronto councillors have expressed frustration with Ford’s behaviour, saying the mayor is turning the city into an international laughing stock.
On ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host quipped Tuesday night that Ford’s “streak of good behaviour appears to have ended.”
Just when you thought Ford couldn’t possibly “pull another nugget out of his bag of crazy, he gets drunk and speaks Jamaican,” joked Kimmel.
“Thank you Canada. This almost makes up for Justin Bieber.”
With files from CityNews