Anti-Rob Ford rally takes over Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto
TORONTO – Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Toronto city hall Saturday and called for Mayor Rob Ford to step down.
Many held up posters insisting Ford leave office, and called the mayor’s ongoing video scandal a disgrace to the city.
Protester Jim Hedge said the explosive video allegations are a tipping point for Ford, who has been tailed by controversy for much of his mayoralty.
“He’s a man who appears willing to say anything – except the truth – to stay in office,” Hedge said.
“He’s not been good economically or culturally for this town and this is the final straw. He has to go.”
Chris Wright, who organized the event on Facebook, said he created the group as a concerned citizen who felt the city lacked the leadership it deserved and felt that City Hall was being overwhelmed with scandals.
“It’s not my event, it’s Toronto’s,” Wright wrote in a message on the event page. “I just happen to be the guy that created the Facebook event.”
Wright also urged participants to remain peaceful during the demonstration.
“Remember, this is meant to be a positive, respectful, and upbeat event,” Wright wrote. “We want to join [our] voices to inject hope and joy into Toronto’s future.”
The controversy surrounding the mayor stems from reports of a video allegedly showing someone who matches the appearance of Mayor Rob Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.
Initially the mayor called the allegations “ridiculous” and has denied allegations that he uses crack cocaine.
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” Ford said during a press conference last week.
Global News has not seen and cannot verify the authenticity of the alleged video.
One Ford supporter who braved the crowd to defend the mayor wound up in a heated argument, but was quickly drowned out by anti-Ford chants.
Derek Hill said many people are jumping to conclusions about the purported video, which has not been publicly released.
“This is not due process. No matter how you feel about Ford, it’s un-Canadian,” he said.
Ford has refused to answer questions about the video scandal at news conferences he has held the past two days.
The mayor has also said he will not step aide and plans to seek re-election.
Meanwhile, Ford hired three new staffers just as he lost another Friday, making it six employees who’ve left in the past two weeks.
Michael Prempeh left the mayor’s staff Friday afternoon, the day after a policy advisor and an executive assistant resigned and 8 days after the mayor fired former chief of staff Mark Towhey. Prempeh had worked in the mayor’s office as a special assistant since September, 2012.
The mayor said he was informed over a month ago that Prempeh was planning to leave to open his own business.
Mayor Ford confirmed Friday that he had hired the new office staff but did not provide their names.
– With files from Global’s Nicole Bogart and James Armstrong, and the Canadian Press.
© 2013 Shaw Media