Rob Ford at a January 22, 2014 meeting of the executive committee. Photo by Ben Spurr.
Rob Ford made a formal statement about his latest episode of public intoxication on Monday, telling reporters it was "a completely private matter."
The mayor was videotaped at an Etobicoke fast food restaurant Monday night in an inebriated state, swearing and cursing the chief of police as he imitated a Jamaican accent.
After avoiding questions earlier in the day, Ford held a press conference in the City Hall member's lounge late in the afternoon and described the episode as a "minor setback."
"We all experience these difficult bumps in life," he said, reading from a prepared statement. "I am telling the Toronto residents that I'm still working hard every day to improve my health and my well-being. But, again, this is completely a private matter."
Since admitting in November to smoking crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor," Ford has repeatedly spoken about his drinking, and publicly pledged in several interviews that he had quit. But after his latest public slip-up, he asserted that his substance abuse issues are none of the public's business.
"As you know, I'm a human being, the same as every one of you. And I'm entitled to a personal life," he said. "And my personal life does not interfere with the work that I do day in and day out for the taxpayers of this great city."
He dismissed as "nonsense" councillors' concerns that his conduct is affecting business at City Hall. He accused them of wanting to "distract from the fact that they want to hike taxes."
After his prepared remarks, he said he would only take questions on the 2014 budget. He promptly stormed off when a reporter asked if he had been using illegal drugs when the video was shot.
Had he stayed, he would have likely faced questions about why a second video published Tuesday showed him meeting with accused drug dealer Alexander "Sandro" Lisi, whether he drove home from the restaurant intoxicated, or where he was the morning after the incident, when he was absent from City Hall for several hours.
His colleagues on council were quick to dismiss his suggestion that his world-renowned crack and alcohol use were not affecting the city's business.
"Who is he kidding?" said Councillor Mihevc. "You can see how it affects the life of the city by the freak show that we were exposed to today."
"These are the rantings of an addicted man. Excuses, lies, betrayals, incoherence," he said.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong argued that the mayor being visibly intoxicated in a public place is definitely not a private matter.
"I think the residents of the city of Toronto are justifiably concerned, not only with his conduct, not only with his addiction problems, but who he associates with. That shows bad judgment," he said.
"The video's in the public domain. And the way that he acted and the things that he said are in the public domain and need to be answered and need to be addressed."