TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will take a leave of absence to seek help for alcohol, he said, as a report surfaced about a second video of the mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.
Ford, who is seeking re-election in the Oct. 27 vote, said Wednesday he will take an immediate leave from his job and his campaign.
“I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time,” Ford said in statement late Wednesday.
The Globe and Mail newspaper said it has viewed a second video of Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine in his sister’s basement. The national newspaper said two Globe reporters viewed the video from a self-professed drug dealer showing Ford taking a drag from a pipe early Saturday morning.
The video is part “of a package of three videos the dealer said was surreptitiously filmed around 1:15 a.m., and which he says he is now selling for ‘at least six figures,’” the paper reported.
News reports of the existence of an earlier video of Ford apparently smoking crack first surfaced last May, igniting a media firestorm around Ford.
Ford’s lawyer, Dennis Morris, said he spoke to Ford earlier Wednesday and said Ford has accepted that he has a problem.
“He acknowledges he has a substance abuse problem and he wants to do something about it,” Morris told The Associated Press.
Ford, who launched his campaign for re-election earlier this year, acknowledged last year after months of denials that he smoked crack in a “drunken stupor” after police said they obtained a video that appears to show him smoking crack. The video has never been released to the public.
Ford has careened from one scandal to another, becoming a national embarrassment for many Canadians.
Also on Wednesday, The Toronto Sun said that it had obtained an audio recording of Ford making offensive remarks about other politicians at a bar on Monday night.
Ford has refused to resign, despite mounting pressure after a string of incidents, from public drunkenness to an appearance in another video that showed him threatening “murder” in an incoherent rant. Toronto’s city council has stripped him of most of his powers.
Ford said last year that he quit drinking alcohol after having a “come to Jesus moment” but later acknowledged that he drank again. A number of recordings of the mayor intoxicated have surfaced since.
Ford acknowledged “rocky moments over the past year” during his official campaign launch earlier this month but vowed to fight harder than ever to win re-election.
Ford, who was the first to register as a candidate in January, invoked the spirit of second chances during a speech in front of supporters.
A message left with Ford’s chief of staff was not returned. Ford’s lawyer, Morris, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on the reports that emerged Wednesday night.
John Tory, who is running against Ford in the election, said he’s relieved that Ford is seeking help but said “for the good of the city” he should resign.
Late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who has repeatedly poked fun at Ford and hosted him on his show, tweeted that he was concerned about Ford. “All jokes aside, I hope@TOMayorFord really does get the help he obviously needs,” Kimmel tweeted.