WATCH: Rob Ford delivers his emotional and contrite statement
TORONTO – Rob Ford said Monday his two months of “intensive therapy” at a Muskoka-area rehab facility has changed his life forever.
But his time in rehab is over and now his top priority is “rebuilding trust with the public and my fellow members of council.”
Speaking to a small group of invited reporters in a city hall lounge, Ford said he spent a long time denying his problems with drugs and alcohol and “resisted the idea of getting help.”
“My alcohol and drug use was having a serious, serious impact on my family, on my health and on my job as mayor,” he said, explicitly addressing drug use for the first time since allegations were made public more than a year ago. “After experiencing some of the darkest moments in my life, I decided that enough was enough.”
“This is a decision that will change my life forever.”
Watch video: Why Rob Ford says rehab saved his life. Mark Carcasole reports.
Ford entered the Greenestone treatment facility in Muskoka in May after an audio recording of him in a drunken rant and a photo of a second video in which the mayor appeared to have been smoking crack cocaine was released by Toronto media outlets.
READ MORE: Will Rob Ford’s stint in rehab help?
Ford made graphic remarks about councillor and mayoral candidate Karen Stintz in the audio recording and apologized to her Monday.
“To my fellow councillors and especially to Karen Stintz, for my hurtful and degrading remarks I offer a deep-felt apology for my behaviour,” he said.
Stintz issued a statement Monday afternoon saying, “If the mayor wants to apologize to me, he’s got my number and he can call. It’s a private matter for him to discuss with me directly.”
The mayor apologized profusely for his past “mistakes”– the alleged crack videos, the graphic remarks about his wife, the graphic remarks about Stintz,the racist comments, and lying to the public – but didn’t mention any specifics, except for naming Stintz.
“When I look back on some of the things I have said, at some of the things I did, when I was using, I am ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated,” he said. “I was wrong and I have no one, but no one, to blame but myself.”
Watch live: Global News panel discusses Rob Ford’s comeback
The mayor returns to city hall in the midst of a mayoral campaign in which recent polls indicate he currently trails Olivia Chow. Some polls suggest he has also fallen behind John Tory.
Mayor Ford didn’t miss the opportunity to include campaigning in his speech.
“When I was first elected in 2010, I promised to stop the gravy train. And that’s exactly what I have done.”
“We’ve moved away from the tax and spend ways of the past and changed the culture at city hall. We have reduced the size and cost of government,” he said. “And we have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.”
(Ford’s savings estimate has decreased from the $1-billion figure he often cited in the past).
Mayoral candidate John Tory has called on the mayor to resign before, and renewed those comments in a brief media availability shortly after Ford spoke Monday afternoon.
Olivia Chow didn’t call on Ford to resign, but designated him a “failed mayor.”
“I wish him well in his continued battles with his demons, and I wish that he will find support from his new friends and family and continue his treatment,” she said. “Having said that, I know that Rob Ford has not apologized to the diverse community, to the ethnic and visible communities and the LGBTQ community.”
Live coverage from GlobalNews.ca in the blog below: