TORONTO — Toronto’s City Council voted Monday to strip embattled Mayor Rob Ford of most of his powers after a tumultuous meeting in which Ford vowed “outright war” in response.
Comparing the vote to “a coup d’etat” and to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Ford — who admitted earlier this month to smoking crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor” — told council members, “What goes around, comes around, friends.”
“If you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait,” he said to groans and laughter in the council chambers. “And you will never see something — mark my words, my friends, this is going to be outright war in the next election, and I am going to do everything in my power to beat you guys.”
A series of votes then went overwhelmingly against the mayor, capping a meeting in which he apparently accidentally knocked down a council member during a break while he and his brother, City Councilor Doug Ford, sparred with hecklers in the council gallery. Several hecklers shouted “Shame, shame, shame” at one point.
In the wake of his crack admission, Ford is battling other allegations of excessive drinking and abusing staffers that have emerged during a drug probe. No charges have been filed against Ford, but his friend and sometime driver has been charged with extortion.
Thursday, he denied a female staffer’s allegation that he sought to perform oral sex with graphic language of his own, stunning the reporters who surrounded him — but called the new allegations “100% lies.” He has refused to step down, insisting he would let voters decide on whether to keep him next year.
The council already has called on Ford to take a leave of absence and voted to strip him of his emergency powers. In a series of votes at the end of Monday’s meeting, it voted to slash his office’s budget and staff and transfer most of his powers to the city’s deputy mayor, Norm Kelly.
Councilor Raymond Cho said Ford, who has touted his expansion of Toronto’s subway system, was running two trains — a “gravy train” and a “crazy train.”
“He needs help, and I said that many times, but he didn’t accept it,” Cho said. “This is the only route that I have to choose, and I leave up to the individual councilors their decision and I hope we made the right decision.”
In an attempt to head off the vote, Doug Ford introduced a separate measure calling for early elections instead. It was ruled out of order.
“There are 383,000 people who voted for the mayor, and a lot of those people voted for each one for you, too,” he said. “They wouldn’t want the mayor to take that right off each one of you, and it’s the same for the mayor.”
The vote comes hours before a new show featuring the Ford brothers debuts on Canada’s Sun News Network.
“Everybody’s had their say — the critics, the media, the opposition. I want people to listen to me tonight from 8-9 on Sun News,” Rob Ford told the council before the vote.
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