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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in Toronto on Nov. 7, 2013.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford "has to make his own decision" about what to do after admitting smoking crack cocaine.

Mr. Flaherty, a close friend of Mr. Ford and his family, appeared emotional as he made his first public comments on the matter since Mr. Ford's confession Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters before beginning a pre-budget consultation in Toronto, Mr. Flaherty was asked whether, as a friend of the Fords, he thought the Mayor should take time away from city hall to deal with his drug and alcohol issues.

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He choked up as he replied.

"I am close with the family," Mr. Flaherty said, before taking a long pause, looking down and appearing momentarily lost for words. "He'll have to – the Mayor will have to – "

"At the end of the day, he has to make his own decision about what he ought to do," Mr. Flaherty said. "Certainly his family is helping him and wishing him well. That's all I can say."

Mr. Flaherty served in the Ontario legislature with Mr. Ford's late father, Doug Ford Sr., in the 1990s.

He has remained friends with the Mayor and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford.

Last spring, when allegations about Mr. Ford's drug use first emerged, Mr. Flaherty told the CBC he had spoken with the Mayor and members of his family. Those discussions, he said, were "personal."

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