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Toronto mayor could lose more powers in council vote

Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford could see even more of his powers stripped Monday as the city council considers further sanctions against him following admissions of crack cocaine smoking and binge drinking.

An overwhelming majority of councillors voted last week to curb his official duties and authority in Canada’s largest city, and were expected to follow-up with a further dressing-down at about midday.

With his powers to appoint committee chairs, his staff and his office budget already transferred to the city’s deputy mayor, another vote against Ford would effectively become just a figurehead.

He however vowed to fight both in court and at the ballot box to keep his job intact.

“He feels very strongly that he has a job to do and he wants to do it and he is doing it,” Ford’s lawyer George Rust D’Eye said.

“The city can’t essentially gang up on him and remove the powers which the province (of Ontario) has given him.”

The mayor has faced a swell of outrage over a litany of misdeeds, both admitted and alleged, ever since a video surfaced last month in police hands that appeared to show him smoking crack.

As tensions mounted, Ford finally admitted he had once smoked the illicit drug in the past year and apologized for his antics, including his many “drunken stupors.”

New allegations of misconduct, disclosed last week, and his lewd remarks in denying sexual harassment claims prompted widespread calls for his resignation, but Ford has insisted he will not step down.

Over the weekend, Ford made US media rounds to try to quell the controversy, attended a Toronto Argonauts football game where fans cheered him on and taped a new Canadian television talk show with his brother Doug, who is also a city councillor.

Ford was parodied on the US weekly sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” — evidence of how far the scandal has resonated.

The 44-year-old told US broadcasters that he was working out at a gym two hours every day, and is “seeking professional help” in order to shed a few pounds and get his personal life back on track.

“If you don’t see a difference in the next four (or) five months then I have to eat my words,” he told Fox News.

He maintained, however: “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m not a drug addict.”

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly told public broadcaster CBC, “He’s made some minor adjustments, but not major ones.

“And so I think reluctantly many members of council have come to the conclusion that they have to, as one councillor put it, build a ‘firewall’ between the mayor and the executive function of this council.”

Ford meanwhile revealed that he has aspirations to run for prime minister of Canada.

Of his critics, he said: “The haters are going to be the haters.”

He called the majority of Toronto’s 44 city councillors “left-wing tax-and-spend socialists” while describing himself as a fiscal conservative with liberal social values who saved Toronto taxpayers Can $1 billion in his first three years in office.

“He loves Obama,” his brother Doug told CNN.

“If the council wants to continue what it’s doing ?- stripping me of all my powers, taking away my staff ?- they can’t stop me from showing up to council, debating every issue… returning phone calls, no one can stop me campaigning,” Ford told Fox News.

He noted that he was elected with 47 percent voter support in 2010, and added: “I’m very sure I’m going to get re-elected.”

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