Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said he has told Toronto police to charge him if they think he’s guilty of a criminal offence, and vowed to win the next municipal election despite the string of controversies plaguing his term.
The embattled mayor appeared in a television interview with former newspaper publisher Conrad Black that allowed Mr. Ford to put his spin on events in a friendly setting. He told Mr. Black – who spent time in the U.S. penal system after a fraud conviction – that he hasn’t had a drink in five weeks and is not an alcoholic.
“If they want me to do a drug test, a urine test, I’ll do one right now,” he said. “If there’s any drugs in my system, any alcohol in my system, I have no problem doing that test.”
Mr. Black responds, “Rob, there’s no need to do a urine test right now,” sending the mayor into a fit of laughter.
Mr. Ford classified several widely reported drunken episodes as “immature,” and said he was embarrassed but resolved to move on. He also said people would be impressed with his recovery, particularly if he manages to lose weight.
“I was never an alcoholic,” he said. “But I like to have a few drinks on the weekend.”
The mayor, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor,” took several swipes at the media coverage of his term and said his children are worried “their father is going to get killed” by the reporters waiting outside of his house.
But he focused on one incident with particular zeal, when Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale was taking photos in a public space behind his house that the mayor was interested in purchasing from the city. He laughed as he suggested the reporter wasn’t there to take photos of the vacant property, but of his children.
“He’s taking photos of little kids,” Mr. Ford said. “I don’t want to say that word, but you start thinking ‘What’s this guy all about.’”
He also touched briefly on his relationship with Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, saying that the investigation into his activities has been partly motivated by cuts he has made to the police budget.
“He’s not happy I told people to find efficiencies,” he said. “I think he was quite upset. I definitely think this is political.”
Mr. Black defended the mayor, saying: “The piling on to Mayor Rob Ford has been excessive. He was elected mayor of Toronto and those who do not like his style will be free to vote against him if he runs again. If there is sufficient evidence to prosecute him with crimes, due process should be followed. But he should be accorded a full presumption of innocence unless he is justly convicted. Beyond that his accusers should put up or shut up.”
The 20-minute segment was taped Friday afternoon at City Hall and was originally slated to air Dec. 16. But Vision TV decided to air the segment a week earlier, citing “overwhelming interest and demand.” Vision originally planned to only air a 15-minute segment, but cancelled a midnight movie so that it could show the entire one-hour interview early in the morning.
When asked to comment on Ford's suggestion that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale was only in the mayor's back lot to take photos of his children, editor Michael Cooke said "just when you think Mayor Ford has said the most stupid thing, such as letting the whole world know about his sex life at home, he tops himself with another outrage. Mr. Ford calling reporter Daniel Dale a pedophile tells you all you need to know about our mayor's brain. So sad for all of us.”