Ford says he was embarrassed about drug use
TORONTO - After months of insisting he had been truthful in the midst of a drug scandal, Toronto's controversial mayor has admitted he lied to the public because he was embarrassed.
Rob Ford made the admission on his own terms, in a YouTube show called "Ford Nation" which was posted online Monday.
"Did I experiment with drugs? Yes I have. Why did I lie? I think everybody in the world has lied, because I was embarrassed," Ford said, while looking directly into the camera.
"I didn't want to tell the truth. That's the only answer I can give. That's as straightforward as I can be."
Ford's revelation came in response to a written question from "Sandra from Bangkok, Thailand," who wondered why the mayor lied about his "substance abuse problem" when initially asked.
"I'm not a drug addict, I don't use drugs. Have I in the past? Yes," Ford said.
"When they ask me, it's very, very humiliating in front of the world to say yes ... People either lie to cover up, people lie because they're embarrassed, that's why I lied."
Ford had been under intense scrutiny since last May, when two media outlets reported the existence of a video that they said appeared to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine.
The mayor initially denied he used the drug and suggested the video did not exist, but he backtracked in November by admitting he had smoked crack cocaine, probably in one of his "drunken stupors."
"I wasn't lying,'' he told reporters at the time. "You didn't ask the correct questions. No, I'm not an addict and no I do not do drugs.''
The cocaine scandal was just one in a string of controversies that have put Ford in the international spotlight.
Among other eyebrow-raising incidents, the mayor also made a crude sexual comment on live TV and was recently filmed using Jamaican swear words and other profanities, at one point aiming his curses at Toronto's police chief.
Toronto city council voted to strip Ford of most of his mayoral powers in November, leaving him with little more than ribbon-cutting duties. At the time, the besieged mayor called it a coup d'etat, comparing it to the 1991 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and a declaration of war.
Ford's new YouTube show — co-hosted with his brother Coun. Doug Ford — gives the mayor a renewed chance to take his message to the masses in a controlled manner.
It comes months after a weekly radio talk show hosted by the Ford brothers was ended on Toronto radio station NewsTalk 1010 and a Sun News Network series, also called "Ford Nation," was cancelled after its debut due to its costs.
In one clip on his new show, the mayor appeals to viewers to look past his personal issues.
"Please judge me on my record," he said, "not my personal life."
A video channel dedicated solely to countering the new Ford show has already sprung up. "Ford Nation Rebuttal" has already posted more than three minutes of clips of Rob Ford scandals and controversial statements dating back to his time as a city councillor.
Ford's new show was posted Monday as word surfaced that the scandal-plagued mayor's antics could soon be coming to a TV or movie screen.
Blue Ice Pictures, a Toronto-based indie film and TV production company, acquired the film and television rights to the new book "Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story."
The book is written by Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle, one of three journalists who viewed the infamous video that appeared to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had an incorrect title for the "Ford Nation Rebuttal" video.