TORONTO – Toronto’s City Council voted overwhelmingly Friday to strip Mayor Rob Ford of some of his powers, trying to box in the brash leader who has rebuffed huge pressure to resign because of his drinking and drug habits and erratic behavior.
The motion, approved in a 39-3 vote, suspends Ford’s authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and his executive committee, which runs the budget process. In a separate vote, the council voted to give the deputy mayor authority to handle any civic emergency.
Most city councilors are frustrated by Ford’s refusal to step aside since he acknowledged last week he had smoked crack, but they lack the authority to force him out of office unless he is convicted of a crime.
An unusually subdued Ford vowed to fight the motion in court while also saying he understood why the council was taking the measures. Such comments mixing defiance and contriteness have been typical of the mayor throughout the scandal that has been escalating for months.
“If I would have had a mayor conducting themselves the way I have, I would have done exactly the same thing,” Ford said.
The mayor and his brother voted against the motion.
“Folks here don’t have the moral authority,” Doug Ford said. “It’s not up to you folks to make this decision, it will be up to the people.”
The vote came a day after yet another series of antics from Ford that outraged city councilors, anti-drunk driving advocates and even Toronto’s football team.
In the span of a few hours Thursday, Ford used obscene language to deny that he pressured a female employee for oral sex, acknowledged he had driven while drinking and then apologized for his vulgarity and said he was seeking professional help, though he refused to give details.
Although Ford has acknowledged excessive drinking and using and buying illegal drugs, he and his family have insisted he is not an addict and does not need rehab.
“We need to take away his power for the good of the city,” said Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former ally. “The tide has turned and there are very few people that are prepared to defend him given his vulgar comments and his admission that not only does he takes drugs but that he seems to be comfortable drinking and getting behind the wheel.”