Toronto mayor vows to run again despite crack scandal, staff exodus

Thu May 30, 2013 5:54pm EDT
 

By Julie Gordon and Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford lost two more staff members on Thursday, two weeks after allegations first surfaced that the leader of Canada's largest city was caught smoking crack cocaine on camera, something he has strongly denied.

Security ushered policy advisor Brian Johnston out of city hall around midday on Thursday, and he told reporters he had resigned. Kia Nejatian, the mayor's executive assistant, also left his job, the city confirmed in a statement sent to local media.

The 44-year-old mayor, who hails from a conservative political family and was elected to lead Toronto in 2010, has lost five staffers in seven days, including his chief of staff, who was fired, and his press secretary.

A defiant Ford told a crush of reporters gathered outside his office that "everything is going fine," said he was bringing in new staff and vowed to weather the political storm.

"I'm not stepping aside," Ford said. "I'm running in the next election, and if the great people of this city want to go in a different direction that's what their prerogative is, but I guarantee, my name will be on the ballot."

He repeatedly refused to answer questions on Thursday about the alleged video, shrugging them off with a refrain of "anything else?"

U.S. media outlet Gawker and the Toronto Star both reported on May 16 that their reporters had seen a cellphone video that appears to show Ford using crack cocaine. Ford has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Reuters cannot confirm the existence of the video or its content.   Continued...

 
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (R) walks with his staffer and policy advisor Brian Johnston, moments before Johnston resigned from his position in Toronto, May 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch