On a day when an explosive video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford surfaced and councillors strategized about changing laws to force him out, Mr. Ford hired a driver and delivered his fourth apology in five days.
The new driver – a top requirement of the mayor’s mother, as she explained in a supper-hour TV interview – was one of two staffers to join Mr. Ford’s office Thursday, the latest sign that he has no intention of leaving his job.
The driver, Jerry Agyemang, was picked from the ranks of City Hall security staff who have become familiar fixtures near the mayor’s office. He was at the wheel of Mr. Ford’s Cadillac Escalade as he left City Hall Thursday night. The other hire was a junior staffer to fill in the ranks after the departure of policy adviser Brooks Barnett, who left this week. Official announcements are expected Friday.
The new employees joined Mr. Ford’s staff on another in a string of extraordinary days. The morning began with an effort from a former Ford ally to have council ask the province to change legislation to kick Mr. Ford from office. By lunch, a video that captured an out-of-control Mr. Ford was making the rounds.
In response, a grim-faced Mr. Ford emerged from his office – disregarding the advice of his staff, sources say – to apologize for the bizarre behaviour captured by the camera.
“All I can say is, again, I’ve made mistakes. All I can do is reassure the people that …” Mr. Ford said, trailing off. “I don’t know what to say.”
That mayor said he was “obviously extremely, extremely inebriated” in the video and is embarrassed by its contents.
The video was purchased by the Toronto Star for $5,000 and posted on its website. It is the latest in a damaging string of revelations over the past week about the mayor’s behaviour and drug and alcohol use.
In the video, an inebriated Mr. Ford is spoiling for a fight. He paces, waves his arms wildly and issues a string of profane threats against an unidentified man. “I’m going to kill that fucking guy. I’m telling you it’s first-degree murder,” the mayor says, later adding: “When he’s down, I’ll rip his fucking throat out. I’ll poke his eyes out. I will, fuck, when he’s dead, you help make sure that motherfucker’s dead. I need fucking 10 minutes to make sure he’s dead. It’ll be over in five minutes, brother.”
The agitated mayor goes on to mention insults against his brothers, Doug and Randy. “My brothers are, don’t tell me we’re liars, thieves, birds. It hurts.”
Mr. Ford wouldn’t answer questions about the video, including whom he had been addressing.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly held another in a series of closed-door meetings with Mr. Ford and characterized their discussion as “good.” He said he will continue to urge the mayor to take a leave of absence, acknowledging that many people believe the mayor may be in denial about his personal issues.
“That’s a widely accepted thesis, but I’m not going to comment on that,” he said. “We have an issue right before us right now, and I’m going to try to get to the bottom of it.”
Mr. Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, who stood by him as he faced a wall of cameras and reporters, said the mayor returned to work “doing his mayor stuff” after delivering the apology.
“He’s been interviewing people, he’s been doing a lot of things,” Mr. Morris said. “He just went out for a few minutes and ever since then he’s been working as a mayor.”
He also said, “We don’t have any clear idea” about when the video was recorded.
As the workday ended and reporters waited outside the mayor’s office on the chance Mr. Ford might address the increasing number of calls for him to take a leave, a TV appearance by his mother Diane and sister Kathy did that instead.
“He’s hurt himself, we all know that, but there is nothing that he can’t recover from and he will recover. I know he will,” the mayor’s mother told CP24. “And he won’t resign, and I don’t want him to.”
Mrs. Ford and her daughter said the mayor was not a drug addict or an alcoholic.
Mrs. Ford said she told her son to “smarten up.” Her list of “five steps,” laid out at a family meeting at her home last Friday, were hire a driver, lose weight, get an alcohol detector in his car, change the company he keeps and see a counsellor.
She said there is no need for her son to leave office to do any of this. “Everything will fall into place, I know it will,” she said.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair declined to comment on the video, beyond saying it is not part of the police investigation.
He said he became aware of the video on Thursday, “when it was released to the news.”
With a report from Kaleigh Rogers and Karen Howlett