Watch above: Rob Ford gets back to work but distractions abound at city hall. Mark Carcasole reports.
TORONTO – Rob Ford says his lying, homophobia, sexism and racial slurs are because of his addiction.
In a pair of interviews – his first since returning to work after a stint at rehab in Muskoka – he says he was drinking and using drugs before he became mayor and has done “every drug you can think of, probably.”
“I was in denial. I convinced myself I didn’t have a problem,” he said in an interview with CP24.
“I was born with this disease. I’m going to die with this disease.”
But some people aren’t buying it.
Councillor John Parker said he was surprised the mayor “would hide behind” his addiction.
“I would have thought the Rob Ford that I thought I knew was not someone who would hide behind that sort of definition of the situation that he’s in. I’m surprised that he says he was born with that condition,” Parker told reporters Wednesday.
“Is this what you look for in the candidate profile for any responsible job?”
Doug Ford, who was standing nearby as Parker spoke to reporters, asked sarcastically whether the councillor was also a doctor.
The mayor has been under fire for trying to control his messaging more than ever as he returns to the spotlight: He restricted his initial public statement to a select few media organizations and refused to take questions; Doug Ford promised an interview to every outlet but that has so far not been the case.
The mayor’s office committed to a one-on-one interview with Global News anchor Leslie Roberts on Wednesday, then rescheduled to Thursday, suggesting five sit-down interviews would have been overwhelming for Ford, considering he’s just returned from rehab.
Ford made blanket apologies in his two interviews Wednesday afternoon, continually citing his disease, which he said was the cause of his racist and homophobic remarks.
“I think that goes along with have this disease, it’s a chronical [sic], medical condition that I never understood. You do things; you say things that aren’t just you,” he said in an interview with CBC.
Ford admitted 60 days wasn’t enough to rid him of the disease but said he’s going to take it “one day at a time.”
And he said he’s still capable of being mayor even if he’s still struggling with addiction.
“This is part of life. If you understand how the disease works, it really has nothing to do with your profession,” he said. “I was away with people, professional, professional people, professional athletes, CEOs. It’s not your profession. It’s a disease that you have and there’s a number of reasons that you have these uncontrollable cravings and triggers.”
Ford, who was councillor for 10 years before becoming mayor, admitted to CBC that he had been using drugs and alcohol “for years” prior to becoming mayor in 2010.
He pleaded no contest to impaired driving charges when Miami police found him driving intoxicated with marijuana in his pocket in 1999; in 2006 he came under fire for a drunken outburst at a hockey game he at first lied about.
And while Ford admitted in Wednesday’s interviews to drinking in his office, he was adamant he had never used drugs in his office.
He also said the criminals and alleged criminals he had been associating with – including close friend Sandro Lisi, convicted of assault and charged with extortion – were out of his life but he refused to say any of their names.
Ford became the focus of a police investigation last year after police say they overheard suspects in a guns and gangs investigation talking about the mayor.
He has repeatedly refused to be interviewed by the police and said Wednesday he won’t be change his mind until his lawyer says otherwise.
“If Dennis [Morris] advises me, I follow his lead,” he said.
The mayor also ducked repeated questions about Lee Anne McRobb – the woman who was charged with impaired driving while driving Ford’s car in Muskoka.
But after initially denying it he admitted he gave her his keys. He wouldn’t say why.
The mayor refused to say whether he’d resign should he fall off the wagon.
“I know I didn’t drink yesterday and I know I haven’t drank today,” he told CBC. I’m taking it one day at a time.”