Toronto mayor vows ‘war’ as council strips him of powers
TORONTO - Agence France-Presse
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (C) reacts after walking around council chambers. The mayor is shown in a video frame grab as he knocks down a councilor as he ran toward hecklers in the audience. REUTERS photoToronto’s disgraced mayor Rob Ford went down fighting as the city council stripped him of most of his remaining powers, taunting hecklers as “punks,” comparing his punishment to a military invasion and knocking over a councilor as he charged across the chamber.
In the latest chapter of an ugly, embarrassing saga in Canada’s biggest city and economic hub, Ford was reduced to largely a figurehead following the latest sanctions against him for his admissions of smoking crack and binge drinking.
But Ford remained defiant and again refused to step down. “You are absolutely telling everybody that voted in the last municipal election that their vote does not count,” he said.
‘Folks, you have just attacked Kuwait’
Comparing the council’s decision to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, he added: “Well folks, if you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait.”
Leading up to the vote, debate on the motion descended into farce. Ford taunted hecklers in the public gallery, deriding them as “punks.”
At one point he accidentally bowled over a female councilor as he charged across the chamber.
The civic leaders of Canada’s largest city had already voted last week to curb Ford’s official duties. On Nov. 18 they went further in order to “restore the confidence of the public in the government of Toronto,” according to the deputy mayor.
But Ford, who has apologized for his hell-raising lifestyle and for obscene public outbursts, refuses to quit, has spoken of taking court action and said the only judgment he should face is that of voters at the ballot box next year.
“This is going to be outright war,” said the mayor, who has faced a swell of outrage over a litany of misdeeds, both admitted and alleged, since police last month revealed they had video footage of him smoking crack. Ford admitted he had smoked the illicit drug and apologized for his antics, including what he described as his many “drunken stupors.”
New allegations of misconduct, disclosed last week, and his lewd remarks in denying sexual harassment claims deepened the scandal, prompting widespread calls for his resignation.
Debate over the motion to curb the mayor’s powers was marked by rowdy outbursts and argumentative to-and-fro between councilors and Ford’s dwindling band of supporters.
Ford swung in his chair and pantomimed one councilor’s alleged drinking and driving, and stood to confront hecklers in the public gallery.
Having said he thought his brother Doug, who is also a city councilor, “was getting into an altercation,” he ran across the chamber and somehow knocked a grey-haired female councilor to the floor. She appeared rattled but uninjured as Ford, a former football linebacker, broke off to help her to her feet.
In its aftermath, the mayor now maintains a smaller office budget and a handful of aides, and keeps a seat on the city’s executive council.
He can also still attend official functions as Toronto’s mayor. But the deputy mayor assumes most of his other responsibilities.