Pubdate: Thu, 03 Jul 2014
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2014 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Allison Jones
Page: A9


Says He Had Problem Before Taking Office

TORONTO - The stress of running Canada's largest city is not what 
drove Rob Ford to abuse substances, he said Wednesday, admitting he 
was drinking and using drugs before he was elected as Toronto's mayor.

Ford returned to city hall this week after two months in rehab, 
pleading for a second chance. He would not answer questions after an 
emotional statement Monday, but was sitting down Wednesday with a 
handful of television networks for one-on-one interviews.

Ford told CBC he has been under the influence of alcohol while at 
city hall as mayor, but never used drugs there. He was adamant his 
professional life is not what prompted his substance abuse, saying he 
was born with a "chronic disease" and he will die with it.

"I think people don't understand the triggers and cravings," Ford 
said in the live television interview. "Some people blame it on their 
job. This is a disease that was not this job."

Ford said he drank and did drugs "for years" before he was elected mayor.

The drugs he used ran the gamut, he said, telling television station 
CP24 he had done mushrooms, marijuana and "everything you can think 
of," but not heroin. "The disease gives you uncontrolled cravings 
that no one would understand unless you have the disease," he said.

When asked if someone with uncontrolled cravings is fit for the 
office of mayor, Ford insisted the job is not one of his triggers.

Ford would not commit to resigning if he relapses, saying only he is 
taking it one day at a time.

"I did not drink yesterday and I haven't drank today," he said. Ford 
is running for re-election as mayor Oct. 27.

He has vowed to no longer associate "with the criminal element that's 
before the courts," but said on the advice of his lawyer he still 
will not consent to an interview with the police.

His lawyer, Dennis Morris, confirmed Wednesday that is indeed his 
advice to Ford, as it would be to any client. "Everyone has the right 
to remain silent under our charter, and if police want to investigate 
people, that's their duty," he said in an interview. "Individuals do 
not have to co-operate in any way, and I wouldn't advise anyone 
trying to make a case for the police when the police should try to 
make a case on their own."

When asked if he would still advise the mayor not to co-operate with 
police if Ford has valuable information about people charged in other 
investigations, Morris said, "I doubt if he does."

Ford's name was mentioned by alleged gang members on wiretaps in a 
police investigation known as Project Traveller, police say in court 
documents. An infamous photo shows the mayor posing with a man who 
was later shot and killed, as well as two other men who were both 
later charged in that investigation. Former associate Alexander Lisi 
is facing trial next year on drug charges and has a preliminary 
hearing scheduled on an extortion charge relating to alleged attempts 
to retrieve the original so-called crack video that touched off the 
Ford scandal.

Ford's voice is not on the Project Traveller wiretaps, and if the 
Crown wanted the mayor to testify in those cases it could subpoena 
him, Morris said.

Police have spent thousands of hours conducting surveillance on Ford 
and have not laid any criminal charges against him, Morris said. 
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said Wednesday the criminal 
investigation into the mayor is ongoing.

The embattled mayor also admitted Wednesday he was smoking crack 
cocaine just days before he left for rehab, confirming that was the 
substance in a pipe he was seen holding in a video image obtained by 
the Globe and Mail. In November, Ford admitted he had smoked crack 
cocaine, likely in one of his "drunken stupors," several months after 
the Toronto Star and U.S. website Gawker reported the existence of a 
video appearing to show the mayor using the drug.

But while repeatedly speaking of his disease, he insisted Wednesday 
he is not a crack addict.

Ford also said the disease makes people say and do things they 
otherwise wouldn't do and he offered a blanket apology for using 
ethnic slurs and making reportedly homophobic remarks.

"Everything I said while I was using - I offended a lot of people and 
all I can do is apologize and say sorry," Ford told CP24 when asked 
if he would apologize to Toronto's "diverse community."

"I cannot change the past, and I think that covers everyone that you 
just mentioned."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom