Nothing will bring down the seemingly unsinkable Rob Ford. The embattled Toronto mayor is smack dab in the middle of an alleged crack scandal, and the people of North America's fourth largest city have taken to the streets to call for his resignation.
Several hundreds of people picketed outside Toronto's City Hall this weekend, chanting for Ford to step down. "He's a man who appears willing to say anything -- except the truth -- to stay in office," accused protester Jim Hedger.
After learning of Ford reported video where he smokes crack, Hedger decided enough was enough. "He's not been good economically or culturally for this town and this is the final straw. He has to go."
In addition to vocalizing their ideals, members of the crowd scribbled "resign now Ford," and "respect our city and resign," via colorful chalk on the sidewalk. "He's not our mayor --he's a joke," said Brandon Fairley. "We're a world class city and in the past month people have been laughing at us. We've become a joke."
Ford has not only refused to resign, but announced that he's running for another term. With no physical evidence (i.e. the video) proving the drug claims, at this point the story is still a rumor --which the 48-year-old seems to be using to his advantage. So far he's released a vague statement blasting being "addicted" to crack, before flat-out denying the report. "I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine."
But Ford's increasingly erratic behavior, and casual reaction to what could be a career-ending scandal, has even become too much for his inner circle. In the last several weeks six staff members have resigned, the most recent being Michael Prempeh an assistant for the mayor. Prempeh was one of two "special assistants" employed by Ford's office from the University of Toronto's football program. A spokesperson confirmed his resignation Friday (May 31), just ahead of Ford announcing that three more "movers and shakers" have already been hired, with more in the works.
Mark Towhey, the most high-profile split in the mayor's camp was his chief of staff and left two weeks ago. Towhey reportedly gave up after unsuccessfully urging Ford to seek help.
"I'm not stepping aside," Ford told the press, late last week. "I'm running in the next election. I guarantee my name will be on the ballot."
Ford's confidence may deal in delusion, and reality. A history of bad behavior, a DUI arrest, allegations of public intoxication, and his families' reported ties to the drug world, have not stopped his political career from flourishing. He's served three terms as city councilman and came under fire for numerous controversial comments like blaming cyclists for fatal accidents on the road. "My heart bleeds for them when I heard someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day," he said back in 2007.
A year earlier, he opposed a $1.5 million city donation in the fight against AIDS remarking, "If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn't get AIDS probably, that's bottom line…those are the facts."
As for the video of him smoking crack, the website Gawker.com raised the money to purchase the footage, but can't get in contact with the seller. Toronto drug dealers are said to have hidden the video.
Photos: CBC/Ira Lamcja/Twitter