Toronto Mayor Ford stuck in elevator as lunch audience waits

Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:48pm EST
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford lived up his reputation for surprises on Thursday when he got stuck in a hotel elevator for nearly an hour while a room full of the city's business elite waited impatiently for him to deliver a speech.

The mishap, which delayed his arrival at an C$89-a-plate ($80) business lunch, comes just two days after a video emerged showing Ford ranting, putting on a Jamaican accent, and using profanities to describe Toronto's police chief. On Tuesday, Ford admitted he had consumed alcohol when the video was shot on Monday night, despite his pledge late last year to quit drinking.

The posting of the video on YouTube was a setback for the mayor's efforts to distance himself from a crack-smoking scandal last year and to jump-start his reelection campaign.

By the time Ford finally reached the podium on Thursday - about an hour late and with no explanation from his staff for his absence - several people in the audience at a downtown hotel had grown tired of waiting and had left.

"I want to thank the Economic Club for hosting this event and getting me stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes," he said, before launching into a 20-minute campaign-like speech trumpeting his efforts to cut costs at city hall and criticizing city council for curbing his powers late last year.

Rhiannon Traill, chief executive of the Economic Club of Canada, which hosted the event, confirmed that she, Ford, other members of Ford's staff and several hotel employees had been stuck in a service elevator for about 45 minutes.

The group could not get a cellphone signal, but called for help using the elevator intercom, she said.

Ford did not take questions after the speech.   Continued...

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks at the Economic Club of Canada lunch in Toronto, January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Harris