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Toronto’s mayor admits to using crack

Says that he was drunk, and that he won’t resign

Rob Ford, Toronto’s mayor, said, “I feel like I got 1,000 pounds off my back” on Tuesday after making the admission of drug use.

Aaron Harris/Reuters

Rob Ford, Toronto’s mayor, said, “I feel like I got 1,000 pounds off my back” on Tuesday after making the admission of drug use.

TORONTO — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that he smoked crack ‘‘probably a year ago,’’ when he was in a ‘‘drunken stupor,’’ but he refused to resign despite immense pressure to step aside as leader of Canada’s largest city.

Ford said he loves his job and ‘‘for the sake of the taxpayers, we must get back to work immediately.’’

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Allegations that the mayor had been caught on video smoking crack surfaced in news reports in May. Ford initially insisted the video did not exist, sidestepped questions about whether he had ever smoked crack, and rebuffed growing calls to step down.

The mayor was forced to backtrack last week after police said they had obtained a copy of the video in the course of a drug investigation against a friend of Ford’s.

‘‘Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,’’ Ford told reporters earlier outside his office. ‘‘There have been times when I’ve been in a drunken stupor. That’s why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape.’’

Later, in a prepared statement, Ford said he had ‘‘nothing to hide now.’’

Authorities have said the video, which has not been released publicly, does not constitute enough evidence to charge the mayor with a crime.

Police have said they want to talk to the mayor, but his lawyer so far has declined.

Police spokesman Mark Pugush said Ford’s acknowledgement of crack use will be passed on to investigators. Several Toronto city councilors called on Ford to step down, and Canada’s justice minister urged him to get help.

The controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington Mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation. Barry served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction but later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.

Municipal law makes no provision for the mayor’s forced removal from office unless he is convicted and jailed for a criminal offense.

City Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Ford’s executive committee, said he would put forward a motion asking Ford to take a leave of absence.

Councilor Jaye Robinson said the mayor needs to step aside and address his problems.

‘‘We have become a laughingstock of North America, if not the world,’’ Robinson said.

Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay said it was ‘‘a sad day for the city of Toronto.’’

‘‘As a human being, I think the mayor of Toronto needs to get help,’’ MacKay said.

Ford told the Toronto Sun newspaper that he would not be taking a leave of absence.

‘‘I feel like I got 1,000 pounds off my back,’’ Ford told the paper, which is sympathetic to the mayor. ‘‘I felt like I had to say it. It is what it is. I feel two inches high right now, but I needed to deal with it. I am not going to quit or take a leave.’’

Ford has been dogged by allegations of bad behavior since becoming mayor three years ago, promising to end what he called wasteful spending at city hall. His campaign galvanized conservatives in Toronto’s outlying suburbs, where initiatives like downtown bike lanes were considered excessive and elitist.

The crack episode is not the first time Ford has been forced to admit drug use. During the campaign, he acknowledged after repeated denials that he was busted for marijuana possession in Florida in 1999.

Ford apologized over the weekend for excessive drinking. He said he should not have been ‘‘hammered’’ drunk in public when he appeared at a street festival in August, calling it ‘‘pure stupidity.’’

The mayor has also been accused of making an obscene gesture from his car and texting while driving. In 2011, Ford angered the city’s gay community by declining to attend Toronto’s gay pride parade, breaking with tradition observed by three previous mayors.

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