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Toronto mayor apologizes for lewd remark, gets TV show

By Paula Newton. Laura Dolan and Matt Smith, CNN
November 15, 2013 -- Updated 0209 GMT (1009 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mayor's brother is encouraging him to take a leave of absence, a source says
  • "When you attack my integrity as a father and as a husband, I see red," Mayor Rob Ford says
  • Ford apologizes for lewd remark about oral sex on live Canadian television
  • Mayor and his brother will begin their "Ford Nation" TV show on Monday

Toronto, Canada (CNN) -- Another day, another apology from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, this time for crude comments about oral sex he made Thursday morning.

But by afternoon, he had a television show.

The day started with Ford -- who admitted last week that he had smoked crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor" about a year ago -- facing explosive new allegations of drunkenness, drug use and the verbal and physical abuse of aides. In the course of answering the allegations, he denied a female staffer's allegation that he sought to perform oral sex with graphic language of his own, stunning the reporters who surrounded him.

Soon afterward, his wife at his side, Ford went back before reporters to say he had been under "tremendous, tremendous stress" and was getting unspecified support from "a team of health care professionals." But he called the latest allegations "100% lies."

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"When you attack my integrity as a father and as a husband, I see red. Today I acted on complete impulse in my remarks," Ford said. He took no questions from reporters, who shouted sharp inquiries at him as he entered the office.

"Mayor Ford, why should we believe you? Why would you subject your family to this?" one asked.

"What's the matter with you, Mr. Mayor?" another said.

The Toronto City Council voted 37-5 on Wednesday to ask Ford to take a leave of absence, and most members turned their backs on him when he addressed their Thursday meeting.

Ford's brother Doug, a city council member, is urging him to take a leave of absence, a council source told CNN on condition of anonymity. The source did not want to be identified.

The city council, meanwhile, has scheduled a special meeting on Monday to consider a motion to delegate duties not assigned by statute to the mayor. If approved, the motion would strip Ford of most of his duties.

Among other things the motion calls for reallocating the operating budget of the office of the mayor to the city clerk, according the council's agenda published online.

But in a new twist, Canada's Sun News Network announced that Ford and his brother Doug will begin hosting their own TV show on Monday. The show, "Ford Nation," picks up where the two brothers left off on a talk radio show that ended its run last week, the network said on its website.

A headline on that site posed the question, "Canada's Ultimate Reality Show?" And it quoted Doug Ford saying, "Rob is like Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh" and "You just never know what he is going to say."

"Mayor Ford seems to be in a no-holds-barred mode," the network said. "There is no filter. There is no careful treading."

Critics of Sun News Network have described its conservatism as "Fox News North," according to a story about its launch in 2011 by the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Ford also recently confessed to having purchased illegal drugs in the past two years, while he was in office. But he has steadfastly refused to step down, saying the voters of Canada's largest city should decide his fate in 2014.

The latest allegations surfaced Wednesday in more than 500 pages of court documents that police used to get a search warrant for Alexander Lisi, Ford's friend and occasional driver, whom police accuse of marijuana possession and trafficking.

Ford responded Thursday morning by threatening legal action against former staffers who claimed the mayor brought a woman appearing to be an escort to his office and drank alcohol while driving. The documents include police interviews with former staff members, information obtained from surveillance crews and cameras, and even an examination of the mayor's garbage.

Several staffers said they were asked to buy alcohol for the mayor of Canada's largest city. One incident described by a former staffer alleged that Ford, while driving, stopped the vehicle, guzzled some vodka, and drove on.

None of the allegations against Ford has been substantiated by investigators, and Ford faces no criminal charges. Ford called the allegations "outright lies" and told reporters, "I'm sure none of you have never gotten behind the wheel after taking a drink."

On Thursday, Ford also said the so-called "escort" wasn't a prostitute but a family friend. He added that such allegations "hurt my wife."

"It makes me sick," he added. "I've had enough."

According to the documents, Ford's former press secretary, George Christopoulos, said women often came to the mayor's office, "and told staffers that they have smoked a joint with the mayor on the street outside of the bar. These women were told by the mayor that they could have a job." Christopoulos would then have to interview these women and try to talk them out of a job.

In a CNN interview Thursday evening, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair declined comment on the investigation.

"It is a difficult situation for the city of Toronto and for our citizens, but we're working our way through it," Blair said.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday she was disturbed by recent events involving the Toronto mayor, and while it's not the province's role to impose its preferences on a city's government, the province would respond and provide new tools to the Toronto City Council if it indicated it needs help to carry out its duties, Wynne said.

If so, she would consult other parties to see what could be done so partisan politics wouldn't be involved, she said.

CNN's Paula Newton and Laura Dolan reported from Toronto, and Matt Smith reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Ashleigh Banfield and Michael Martinez contributed to this report..

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