TORONTO – Toronto's scandal-plagued mayor said he's smoked crack "maybe once" and said the city council has no business stripping him of his powers, implying in a television interview Tuesday that many councilors are guilty of similar behavior.
Rob Ford said he has "declared war" after the council acted in response to his admitted crack cocaine use and heavy drinking and a series of outbursts in recent days.
The council voted overwhelmingly Monday in favor of slashing Ford's office budget by 60 percent and allowing mayoral staff to join the deputy mayor, Norm Kelly. Ford retains his title and ability to represent Canada's largest city at official functions.
Kelly said he'll make every effort to work with Ford but said the locks have been changed on part of the mayor's office. The deputy mayor also cast doubt on Ford's ability to stay sober.
"It's easy to go cold turkey. It's hard to stay that way," Kelly said.
Federal Cabinet Minister Jason Kenney, like Ford a conservative, called on the mayor to resign, becoming the first member of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's federal government to do so. Kenney said Ford is dragging Toronto through a "terrible embarrassment."
Ford repeatedly has refused to step down or take a leave of absence.
In an interview broadcast on CP24 Tuesday, he accused city councilors of attacking him for personal reasons.
"They are punishing me for isolated incidents. There have been a few," he said.
Ford also suggested that many councilors were guilty of the kind of behavior he has admitted to.
"I have seen these councilors stumbling out of events," he said.
Ford again denied he had a serious problem with alcohol, though he said he was getting help from health care professionals on a number of issues, and he promised the public would see a difference in him in five months.
The mayor said he's quit drinking "guaranteed."
Toronto, a city of 2.7 million people, has been abuzz with the Ford melodrama since May, when news outlets reported that he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine.
Recently released court documents show the mayor became the subject of a police investigation after the reports surfaced. Ford now acknowledges the reports were accurate. Police said they had obtained a copy of a video that appears to show Ford puffing on a crack pipe, but did not release its contents because it is evidence in the case against Ford associate Alexander Lisi, who faces trial on drug and extortion charges.
In interviews with police, former Ford staffers made further accusations, saying the mayor drank heavily, sometimes drove while intoxicated and pressured a female staffer to engage in oral sex. Ford used an obscenity on live television last week while denying the sex allegation.
Despite his defiant attitude, Ford and his lawyer promised that the mayor was changing his ways and has not had a drop of alcohol in three weeks. His lawyer, Dennis Morris, said the mayor is addressing his substance abuse problems and working out two hours a day.
"Hundred percent he's involved in treatment, not for alcoholism, but something related to alcohol. He is not an alcoholic. I've spoken to his doctor and that's all I can tell you," Morris told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
"He's addressing his substance abuse problems. A lot of things go with these things," Morris said. "It's a domino effect, so there's that abuse combined with two or three other things that go along. Sometimes you eat too much."
"All these hours of idleness that were otherwise occupied by bad behavior are now replaced with good behavior," the lawyer added.