As a group of councillors close to Rob Ford searched for a resolution to the city’s leadership crisis and the city’s business leaders added their voice to the growing chorus calling for the mayor to step aside, new allegations emerged about Mr. Ford’s after-hours behaviour.
The group of councillors, which includes Speaker Frances Nunziata and five members of Mr. Ford’s executive, held a series of closed-door meetings Friday and emerged to say they have “very serious concerns” with recent information concerning the mayor. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said he plans to meet with Mr. Ford Saturday to lay out the views being expressed by the councillors and others.
“I’m hoping upon reflection that he will make the right decision,” Mr. Kelly told a crush of reporters, refusing to say what he thinks that decision should be. “That’s going to be up to the mayor and that will be reviewed with him in a private conversation,” he said.
The mayor turned up on Saturday at city hall but had little to say.
“I told you before I’m not resigning,” Mr. Ford told reporters before getting into an elevator.
The Toronto Region Board of Trade had no qualms about making its views known. The business group took the unusual step of putting out a statement late Friday calling for Mr. Ford to take time off. “Toronto Region Board of Trade believes that under current circumstances it is in the best interests of the City of Toronto for Mayor Ford to take a leave of absence until the situation is resolved. The Mayor of the city must put Toronto first,” said a statement by board of trade CEO Carol Wilding.
Her statement said the board does not believe Mr. Ford can “effectively fulfill” his duties “while this cloud hangs over him and the city.” It urged him “to resolve it as quickly as possible.”
The actions come one day after the city was rocked by a series of revelations that included news that the police have the video of the mayor that allegedly caught him smoking crack cocaine. It also follows confirmation from police Friday that they have been attempting to question the Mayor. Mr. Ford, who spent part of the morning huddled with family and closest advisers at his mother’s Etobicoke home, made it clear Thursday he had no intention of stepping down. He did not come to the office Friday.
Also Friday, new information surfaced about a late-night gathering in Mr. Ford’s city hall office on St. Patrick’s Day of last year. A memo from city hall security about that night recounts how Mr. Ford returned to city hall around 2 a.m. showing signs of intoxication. “He had problems walking, was sweating profusely and was swearing at [Earl] Provost,” the report states. Mr. Provost is now Mr. Ford’s chief of staff.
At 2:30, the report states, “the Mayor headed down and visited the security desk alone with a half empty bottle of St-Remy French Brandy.”
The memo states Mr. Ford was placed in a cab just before 3 a.m. “Due to the nature of the incident involving the mayor, we will not be submitting any reports,” states the e-mail, released Friday by the city. “We did our best at keeping him away from the public eye due to his condition,” it states.
Mr. Provost did not return messages requesting comment.
With files from the Canadian Press
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story referred to a late-night gathering in Mr. Ford's office on St. Patrick's Day this year. In fact, the gathering occurred last year. This online version has been corrected.