OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent a tongue-in-cheek message on Thursday to crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: Keep your eyes off my job.
“I’ve heard Mr. Ford’s statements that he would like to become prime minister of Canada. Obviously, this is not something I‘m in favor of,” Harper told reporters in Quebec, with his senior Quebec minister, Christian Paradis, chuckling at his side.
The embattled Toronto mayor told Fox News this week he would like to run for prime minister one day.
Harper declined to go as far as powerful Employment Minister Jason Kenney, who, in what he stressed was a personal opinion, said on Tuesday that Ford had brought dishonor to his office and to Toronto and should resign.
In revelations that prompted the Toronto council to strip Ford of many of his powers, the mayor admitted earlier this month that he smoked crack cocaine “in one of my drunken stupors,” that he has bought illegal drugs and that he has driven after drinking alcohol.
Separately, a police investigation revealed numerous contacts between Ford and an alleged drug dealer, although police have not charged the mayor with any crime.
Harper takes pride in his law-and-order agenda and Ford, a fellow fiscal conservative, endorsed him during the 2011 federal election. The two later went fishing together at the prime minister’s official country retreat.
Asked if Ford should step down, he would only say: “In terms of his future in Toronto, that is for residents of Toronto to decide.”
Commenting on Ford’s drug use, Harper said: “We have ensured that we have strict laws in place, and we could never support the use or the purchase of illegal drugs by anyone in political positions such as that.”
Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Doina Chiacu