Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford, has admitted for the first time that he smoked crack cocaine when he was in a "drunken stupor", an admission that immediately intensified the pressure on him to resign.
It is very disappointing to have the mayor of the City of Toronto admit to smoking crack cocaine.
The allegations that the mayor of Canada's largest city had been caught on video smoking crack surfaced in May. Ford initially insisted the video did not exist and sidestepped questions about whether he had ever smoked the drug.
He was forced to backtrack after police said last week they had obtained a copy of the video, which has not been released publicly.
"Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine," Ford said outside his office, adding it was a year ago.
"There have been times when I have been in a drunken stupor. That's why I want to see the tape. I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I don't even recall there being a tape or video. I want to see the state that I was in."
Ford walked out of his office and asked journalists to ask him the question they first asked him in May. He acknowledged he smoked it but said: "Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors a year ago."
Later, he returned to address the media with an emotional formal statement. "To the residents of Toronto, I know I have let you down, and I can't do anything else but apologise," he said.
Political support wavering
Elected in 2010 on a cost-cutting platform, Ford has been able to maintain strong voter support in his suburban base even as the scandal has escalated. A poll taken after Police Chief Bill Blair confirmed the existence of the video put Ford's approval rating at 44 percent, up five points from a previous poll.
But while Ford's popular support has held strong, his once rock-solid supporters at City Hall have started wavering. City councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Ford's cabinet-like executive committee, said he will bring a motion to the next city council meeting asking Ford to take a leave of absence.
"It is very disappointing to have the mayor of the City of Toronto admit to smoking crack cocaine," he told reporters. "I was disappointed at two levels: firstly that he did it, but secondly that it took him so long to admit it."
Ford previously apologised for excessive drinking and other mistakes, but has resisted pressure to step down. He had sidestepped questions about whether he has ever smoked crack until now.
Police have said the video, which has not been released publicly, does not constitute enough evidence to charge the mayor with a crime.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies