US & Canada

Toronto's Rob Ford says he bought drugs in last two years

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAsked by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong whether he had purchased illegal drugs, Mr Ford said: "Yes, I have"

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has admitted buying illegal drugs in the past two years, at a raucous meeting at which city councillors asked him to take a leave of absence.

In recent weeks, Mr Ford, 44, has revealed he smoked crack cocaine while in office and struggled with drink.

In a vote of 41-2, the council in Canada's largest city requested he take leave. Mr Ford has vowed to stay.

The request was symbolic, as the council has no authority to remove him.

On Wednesday, Mr Ford was aggressively questioned by city councillors who are furious at his reported conduct and who say he has embarrassed the city.

During the questioning, spectators repeatedly cheered, applauded and laughed, and were admonished to remain quiet by the council's speaker.

Asked by a councillor whether he had purchased illegal drugs in the last two years, Mr Ford paused a moment, then said: "Yes I have."

He apologised and said he was ashamed of his behaviour.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hundreds of protesters gathered around Toronto City Hall to call for Mr Ford to step down

"I understand the embarrassment that I have caused this city," he said. "I cannot change the past. All I can do is move on."

But he said: "I'm most definitely keeping this job... I am not leaving here." He has pledged to run for re-election in October 2014.

He pointed to what he described as his exemplary record of attendance at council meetings - and at his record in cutting the city's budget.

But the councillors who opposed him said Mr Ford continued to harm Toronto.

"People who live in this city will be paying for the damage caused by terrible judgment, serial deception and rampant ego for a long while to come," Denzil Minnian-Wong said.

"I'm so tired of waking up in the morning and wondering: 'What will it be today?'"

And Jaye Robinson said Mr Ford should heed the request of almost every city councillor. Only Mr Ford and one other voted against the letter asking him to step aside.

"Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence," she said. "Let's get on with city business."

During the debate, hundreds of protesters chanted "resign" outside city hall.

In recent weeks, Mr Ford has admitting smoking crack cocaine while in office and has acknowledged he was trying to cut back on his drinking.

Mr Ford has become increasingly isolated since the spring, when the Toronto Star and US gossip website Gawker reported that their journalists had viewed a video in which a highly intoxicated Mr Ford appeared to smoke from a crack pipe.

After Toronto police said they had obtained a copy of a video matching that description last week, Mr Ford admitted he had smoked crack cocaine - while in "one of my drunken stupors".

Subsequently, another video surfaced publicly in which an apparently intoxicated Mr Ford ranted and threatened to kill an unnamed person.

More on this story