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Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a 'little bit'

Source: Reuters - Tue, 21 Jan 2014 22:50 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Cameron French

TORONTO, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who pledged last year to go clean after a crack-smoking scandal, admitted on Tuesday he had been drinking again after a video surfaced of him ranting about police surveillance in a mock Jamaican accent in a suburban eatery.

Asked by reporters outside his office at city hall if he had been drinking, Ford said, "Yes I was ... Little bit, yeah."

In the video, shot from a low angle and posted on YouTube on Tuesday, Ford stands by the counter of a fast-food restaurant and rants about surveillance that police carried out last year during a drug investigation.

"Chase me around five months, man," he said, before using a Jamaican profanity. In much of the approximately 1 minute-long video, Ford speaks in a Jamaican accent. "He's hiding here, I'm hiding here. You know how much money that costs?"

Asked about the video, shot at the Steak Queen restaurant in the western suburb of Etobicoke, Ford admitted it was filmed after he was out socializing on Monday night.

"I was with some friends. If I speak that way it's how I speak with some of my friends. I don't think it's discriminative at all ... It's my own time," he said.

In November, Ford said he had smoked crack while in a "drunken stupor" and had driven after drinking. Those admissions came after police revealed they had a video of the mayor smoking what appeared to be crack. The video had been uncovered in the course of a drug probe.

Ford, who has registered to run in this year's municipal election, has maintained he is not addicted to drugs or alcohol, and said in late November he had stopped drinking completely.

An attempt to reach Ford's spokesman was unsuccessful.

The crack scandal, as well as other embarrassments including a separate expletive-laden video where an admittedly intoxicated Ford makes threats against unspecified people, made Ford the target of late-night TV lampooning. Toronto's city council has reduced his powers and handed much of his responsibility to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

Earlier on Tuesday, Doug Ford, the mayor's brother and a city councillor, told reporters the video could not have been shot on Monday and said the mayor had given up drinking "100 percent. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and David Gregorio)

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