Another councillor has come forward to say that he believes Rob Ford may have a drinking problem.
In an interview with NOW on Wednesday, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said that while he has no first hand knowledge of the mayor's alleged alcoholism, he believes a recent Toronto Star article that asserted Ford is struggling with addiction is credible.
"I worry for the mayor. And I worry for the mayor's family," De Baeremaeker said. "If what he's saying is true, then he has no problems. I fear, on the other side, that if he has a problem, like any of us, he needs to seek help."
Ford admantly denies the reports.
De Baeremaeker stressed that he has never seen the mayor drunk. But a string of reports about his "erratic" behaviour has led the Scarborough Centre councillor to believe that Ford may have a serious problem.
De Baeremaeker cited Ford's 1999 arrest in Florida for driving while intoxicated and a 2006 outburst at a Maple Leafs game as evidence of a disturbing pattern (Ford denied both incidents when they first came to light but later admitted to them).
More recently, De Baeremaeker said he was troubled by accounts that allegedly Ford groped former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson at a political function and unleashed a pro-casino rant at a gathering of Orthodox Jews, as well as the Star story. The article, published Tuesday, reported that the mayor was asked to leave a military gala when guests became concerned he was intoxicated.
"Because it seems to be happening quite a bit, it does seem to be a pattern," De Baeremaeker said.
"I think this isn't just somebody being stubborn or being bombastic. There's something wrong there. Normal people don't behave this way."
While the Star report described Ford's alleged alcoholism as an "open secret" at City Hall, few council members have gone on record confirming that it's widely suspected he has a problem.
"I've heard stories, but it's like third-, fourth-, fifth-hand stories," said Councillor Peter Milczyn, who suggested the rumours weren't credible.
"In all these years I've never seen him drunk at City Hall. And I haven't seen him drinking on the job."
Josh Colle, a rookie council centrist, told a similar story, saying he had never heard any reliable reports that the mayor was drinking too much.
"From you guys [the media] I hear the odd rumour about that," he said. "There are so many rumours around this place that if you actually listened to all of them, you'd be just kind of mired in it. So I try not to get caught up in the high school gossip around this place."
Several other councillors said they had never heard or seen anything that would indicate Ford has a substance abuse problem.
Even those who believe Ford has issues with alcohol are reluctant to discuss it in depth. Councillor Paul Ainslie, who confirmed to the Star that Ford was asked to leave the Toronto Garrison Ball last month, has been ducking media for the past two days. And Councillor Joe Mihevc, who told CBC Radio on Wednesday morning that Ford's denials were "not accurate," did not return NOW'S repeated requests for comment.
Only Councillor Sarah Doucette stood by statements she made to the Star on Tuesday in which she urged Ford to seek help.
"I would never, ever say anything if I didn't have some facts," Doucette told reporters Wednesday. "I'm not doing this to be vindictive, I'm doing this because of my concern for a man who's under an awful lot of pressure."
"If he has a problem, I think for his own sake and for everyone's sake, he should ask for help."
She would not reveal what "facts" led her to believe Ford may be an alcoholic, however.
Asked why other councillors claim to be unaware of the so-called "open secret," Doucette said: "There's a lot of councillors in this City Hall, some hear and some don't."