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Americas

Toronto council asks mayor to resign amid new claims of impropriety

© afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-14

Toronto's city council voted Wednesday to ask Mayor Rob Ford to step down as a judge ordered the release of new information indicating that Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack, may also have consorted with a prostitute and driven while drunk.

Toronto's city council voted to ask scandal-tainted Mayor Rob Ford to step down on Wednesday as a judge ordered the release of new information indicating that Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack, may have also consorted with a prostitute and driven while drunk.

An Ontario judge decided to release the additional information from the police investigation into Ford, who refuses to step down as leader of Canada's largest city despite having admitted to illegal activity.

The council's motion seeking his resignation is non-binding, as it does not have the authority to force him to step down.

At the first city council meeting since Ford admitted last week to smoking crack while in a "drunken stupor", the mayor admitted Wednesday to having purchased illicit drugs within the past two years. 

The new documents suggest that Ford had used the prescription pain killer Oxycontin, consorted with sex workers, driven while inebriated and asked his staffers to purchase alcohol, among other irregularities.

The nearly 500-page document holds months' worth of allegations that have not yet been proven in court and were used to obtain a search warrant in an investigation targeting suspected drug dealer Alessandro Lisi.

St. Patrick's Day romp

The document outlines recollections from Earl Provost, who is Ford's current chief of staff, and former staffers Brooks Barnett and Isaac Ransom, all of whom paint a vivid picture of one night in particular: St. Patrick's Day, 2012.

The three were among the revellers celebrating with Ford, who started the party at his City Hall mayoral office. Ransom describes the presence of a petite blonde, blue-eyed woman named Alana, who he said he believed was a sex worker.

Ransom told police that there had been rumours that Ford "had used escorts or prostitutes", that Alana had previously been seen with Ford "at a stag party", and that she had both hash and marijuana. He said that Ford wanted to use drugs with Alana, but staffers prevented him.

At the party, Ransom says, Ford finished half of a 40-ounce (1.1-litre) bottle of vodka before taking a cab to a downtown bar, Bier Markt, to drink in a private room.

Ransom said that Barnett and Provost later told him that the mayor called the cab driver a "Paki", threw business cards at him and "made mocking, fake-language sounds".

A Bier Market food server who was interviewed by police said that when he entered the private room to serve food at one point in the evening, he saw the mayor and another woman "turned in towards each other with their heads down and back from the table and he heard two sniffs from both of them", a possible indication that they were snorting illegal drugs.

The food server said that Barnett asked for his name, gave him a business card and told him: "Don't tell anyone about what you saw here tonight."

Barnett left Ford's employ this week.

That same night, Provost allegedly told Ford's chief of staff at the time, Mark Towhey, that he saw the mayor take an Oxycontin pill.

The party returned to City Hall, where the Mayor reportedly "started crying uncontrollably, assaulted Barnett [and] pushed Provost" for their affiliations with the Liberal Party.

Over the course of the night, Ford also reportedly made lewd comments to a female staffer at the scene and a female City Hall security guard.

Eventually, Ford got into a cab with Provost. At the end of the night, Towhey and Ransom report that once the inebriated Ford got home, he got into his own car and left, nearly striking Provost's cab.

Ransom said Ford did not remember the incident when Provost informed him of it.

The new documents also allege that staffers were asked by the mayor to purchase alcohol.

At the council meeting on Wednesday, Ford denied that he had ever assaulted an employee and once again vowed not to step down nor take a leave of absence.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-11-14

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