Special council meeting to strip Mayor Rob Ford of more powers turns chaotic

TORONTO – City council is debating a resolution to strip Rob Ford of more of his mayoral powers in a session that at one point turned into a shouting match between the mayor and members of the public.

The besieged mayor seemed to charge a heckler, but instead knocked down another councillor.

The speaker called a recess as security tried to clear the public gallery and his brother yelled “punk!” at someone.

Ford’s body guard also filmed those in the gallery, as the crowd chanted “for shame!”

One man made a rude gesture at the mayor, while others leaned out of their seats to take pictures of him.

Earlier in the day, Ford challenged city council to call a snap election.

Blasting what he called a “coup d’etat,” Ford said voters should be able to pass judgment on him, not his fellow councillors.

“If they want me out, they should just call a snap election,” Ford told radio station AM640.

“In three months, let’s have an election, right now.”

Ford had little to say on his arrival at city hall.

However, a legal expert called the vote challenge “bluster,” while the provincial government showed little appetite to get involved.

Lawyer John Mascarin said the province could amend legislation to allow for an early election, or it could step in if council was unable to hold a meeting for 60 days because not enough councillors showed up.

At the provincial legislature, Finance Minister Charles Sousa called the “antics” in Toronto distressing but said council had a job to do.

“The last thing we want is for more disruption,” Sousa said.

If passed, Monday’s motion would, among other things, see most of Ford’s office and budget essentially put under the deputy mayor’s control.

City staff said they believed the motion would withstand court scrutiny.

Ford has already threatened legal action after councillors overwhelmingly passed a pair of motions on Friday stripping him of his ability to appoint key committee chairs or to exercise emergency powers.

Ahead of the special vote, Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said councillors would not be intimidated.

“We’re not going to roll over to the threats,” Minnan-Wong said.

Ford has previously admitted to smoking crack cocaine “in a drunken stupor,” but in excerpts of an interview aired on CNN’s “New Day” Monday, he admitted to having “smoked some crack sometimes.”

Asked by reporter Bill Weir why he finally made those admissions, Ford said he was “sick and tired” of the allegations.

“I’m not going to run around and be phoney and lie,” Ford said.

“I’m not going to have someone try to blackmail me and say they got videos of this.”

The mayor said he hadn’t smoked crack in over a year and again denied he’s an addict.

Ford also boasted about his parenting skills in light of allegations to police in court documents that he was with his children while severely intoxicated. The allegations have not been proven in court.

“I’m the best father around,” Ford told Weir.

The full interview is to be broadcast Monday night on the show “Anderson Cooper 360.”

On Sunday, Ford defied a request by the Toronto Argonauts to stay away from Sunday’s football game.

At city hall, Ford’s staunchest defender, his councillor brother Doug Ford, said the mayor was received like a “rock star” when he attended the game.

“He was more popular than the Argos themselves,” Coun. Ford said.

In an interview with Fox News, Ford said he had his eye on higher political office.

“Yes, one day I do want to run for prime minister,” he told Fox’s John Roberts.

Last Wednesday, Ford admitted buying illegal drugs while in office, and a day later sparked outrage by making a crude sexual comment on live television.

He has steadfastly refused to take a leave or resign since reports surfaced in May of a video that appeared to show him smoking crack cocaine.

Police said they had recovered the video, but have refused to release it on the grounds it is evidence in another court proceeding.

In court Monday, a judge dismissed an application from the lawyer for a man charged with drug trafficking and seen with the mayor in a photograph to be allowed to view the “crack” video.

With a file from Keith Leslie.

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