Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves office for rehab stint

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford appeared in Toronto on 1 May 2014 Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been stripped of many of his political powers after admitting using illegal drugs

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is starting a 30-day treatment course, as police investigate a new video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine.

His lawyer told the Associated Press that Mr Ford had boarded a plane to Chicago for a treatment programme.

Rob Ford announced on Wednesday he would leave his re-election campaign to get help for substance abuse.

The Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper says it has viewed a video showing the mayor smoking a crack pipe.

The paper says it was filmed on Saturday morning.

Mr Ford - who is still seeking re-election on 27 October - released a statement which said: "I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right.

"I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence."

His lawyer would not say whether Chicago was Mr Ford's final destination.

Rob Ford's brother Doug also confirmed the mayor was entering a residential course at an unspecified location.

"As an older brother, I'm relieved that Rob has faced his problems and decided to seek professional help," Doug Ford told CBC News.

"This isn't an easy thing for anyone to do... especially when you're mayor of this city."

Analysis

This may be Rob Ford's best shot at winning another four years in office.

The polls show that despite the embarrassing videos, outbursts and antics, he remains in contention with his two chief challengers, John Tory on the centre-right and Olivia Chow on the left. That is because his core supporters in Toronto's inner suburbs - the "Ford Nation" - are steadfast in their loyalty.

But with months to go until October's vote, it remains to be seen whether he can build on that base among the mass of Toronto voters who are embarrassed by his behaviour or who disagree with his conservative politics.

If Mr Ford emerges from his treatment looking healthy, sober and ready to get to work, he may convince Toronto to give him another chance.

Meanwhile, Canadian police have reopened an investigation into Rob Ford's drug use following the claims of a new video.

"Investigators would be interested to see what new information there is," Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said.

Toronto police are said to have spent months watching Rob Ford and his former driver in 2013 as part of a drug gang investigation.

Rob Ford has already been stripped of many of his powers after admitting using and purchasing illegal drugs while mayor.

Following months of denials, Rob Ford admitted last year to smoking crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor" after police said they had obtained a video that appeared to show him taking the illegal drug.

Mr Ford's challengers in the upcoming election reacted swiftly to the rehab announcement.

"On a personal level, I am relieved Mayor Ford is getting help," businessman John Tory said in a statement. "For the good of the city, I call on Mayor Ford to resign."

Former New Democratic Party MP Olivia Chow said his decision to seek treatment came too late and it was time for a new mayor.

Toronto's controversial mayor Rob Ford says he is seeking help for substance abuse, as David Willis reports

Mr Ford was first elected to lead Canada's largest city in 2010 on a pledge to tackle wasteful spending at city hall, drawing much of his support from the suburban areas of Toronto.

In the fallout from the drugs scandal last year, the city council stripped Mr Ford of most of his mayoral powers and his budget.

In another potentially embarrassing development, the Toronto Sun said it had obtained a new audio recording of him making abusive comments about Councillor Karen Stintz, who is running for mayor, and other politicians.

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