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Toronto mayor seeks help for substance abuse; new video surfaces

Source: Reuters - Thu, 1 May 2014 03:14 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds comment from Ford's lawyer, background)

By Jeffrey Hodgson and Cameron French

TORONTO, April 30 (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who gained global notoriety after admitting to smoking crack cocaine, will take a break to deal with substance abuse issues, his lawyer said on Wednesday, as a Canadian newspaper reported a new video showed him using what appeared to be drugs.

The Globe and Mail newspaper said on Wednesday that two of its reporters had seen a new video of Ford taking a drag from a long copper-colored pipe. The story, citing a self-professed drug dealer, said the video was secretly filmed early Saturday morning.

Ford's office and lawyer could not immediately be reached to comment on the report. Reuters has not seen the video and cannot vouch for its authenticity.

Ford's criminal lawyer, Dennis Morris, told the CP24 channel that Ford will take a break from his job to address a substance abuse problem.

"He felt it was time that he took a bit of a break. He wasn't very proud of certain comments that were made - audio comments - and he realizes that might be something that's a tipping point for him to step back a little bit and get assistance for substance abuse. I don't know what the substance is, but I would guess it might be alcohol," Morris said.

"In my eyes I think denial is hallmark of a person who may need some assistance and not being truthful sometimes is another hallmark. So if you now realize you do need assistance and admit it, I think that's a good step to rehabilitation."

But Morris also said Ford wasn't planning to quit his reelection campaign.

NEW AUDIO RECORDING

Separately, the Toronto Sun newspaper reported on Wednesday that it had obtained a new audio recording of Ford ranting and swearing in a Toronto area bar. The recording includes lewd remarks about a rival female candidate in the mayoral race.

Ford, who came to power in 2010 on a platform of cost-cutting and low taxes, has billed himself as a champion of taxpayers and ordinary people.

The revelations about Ford began in May of last year, when two media outlets said they had seen video of him smoking from what appeared to be a crack pipe.

He initially said he did not smoke crack cocaine, before admitting in November that he had done so. That revelation and his decision to remain in office made headlines globally and drew ridicule from U.S. late-night talk show hosts.

Ford pledged at the time that he would stay away from drugs and alcohol.

In January, a video was posted online, showing Ford ranting in a Jamaican accent and slurring his words at a suburban eatery. He conceded he had been drinking the night the video was shot, but described it as a "minor setback" and said his personal life did not interfere with his job.

Ford, who has been stripped of many of his powers by the city council, had refused calls to step down and said he expects to be returned to office in October's municipal elections. (Additional reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Ken Wills)

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