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Toronto mayor admits buying drugs

Crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has admitted he has bought illegal drugs in the past two years.

The mayor made the confession under direct questioning by city councillors who were debating asking him to take a leave of absence.

Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong asked Mr Ford if he had bought illegal drugs in the past two years. After a long pause, he replied: "Yes I have."

Mr Ford publicly admitted last week that he smoked crack cocaine last year in a "drunken stupor" but his comments marked the first time he admitted to having bought illegal drugs.

"I understand the embarrassment that I have caused. I am humiliated by it," he said.

But he then turned defiant, saying he was not an addict of any sort and rebuffed suggestions from council members that he should seek help. He insisted he is a "positive role model for kids who are down and out."

"I'm most definitely keeping this job," he said. "I am not leaving here. I'm going to sit here and going to attend every meeting."

Moments earlier, all but two of the 43 councillors present for the debate voted to accept an open letter asking him to step aside.

Although it was a stark demonstration of his political isolation, the vote was symbolic because the City Council does not have the authority to force the mayor from office unless he is convicted of a crime.

"Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence," Councilor Jaye Robinson said.

The packed council chamber erupted with applause when Ms Robinson ended her speech, saying "Let's get on with city business."

Ford's refusal to resign has confounded the City Council, where many members agree that his erratic behavior - from public drunkenness to threatening to kill someone in a videotaped tirade - has consumed Toronto's politics and undermined efforts to tackle other challenges.

But with no clear legal path to force him out, the council is grasping for ways to shunt the larger-than-life leader aside and govern without him until next year's municipal elections.

Toronto police said last month they had obtained a long-sought video of Mr Ford apparently smoking from a crack pipe but that it does not constitute enough evidence to charge him.

Mr Ford, 44, was elected three years ago, riding a backlash from suburbanites who felt alienated by what they deemed Toronto's city-centre, liberal-dominated politics.

-AP

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