Toronto mayor loses two more staffers as crack scandal roils

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (R) walks with his staffer and policy advisor Brian Johnston, moments before Johnston resigned from his position in Toronto, May 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (R) walks with his staffer and policy advisor Brian Johnston, moments before Johnston resigned from his position in Toronto, May 30, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford lost two more staff members on Thursday, two weeks after allegations first surfaced that the leader of Canada’s largest city was caught smoking crack cocaine on camera, something he has strongly denied.

Security ushered policy advisor Brian Johnston out of city hall around midday on Thursday, and he told reporters he had resigned. Kia Nejatian, the mayor’s executive assistant, also left his job, the city confirmed in a statement sent to local media.

The 44-year-old mayor, who hails from a conservative political family and was elected to lead Toronto in 2010, has lost five staffers in seven days, including his chief of staff, who was fired, and his press secretary.

U.S. media outlet Gawker and the Toronto Star both reported on May 16 that their reporters had seen a cellphone video that appears to show Ford using crack cocaine. Ford has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Reuters cannot confirm the existence of the video or its content.

Separately, Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne told reporters that the Canadian province’s government was monitoring the situation and could get involved, if appropriate.

“As a citizen and as premier of the province, I’m concerned that things are not as they should be at city hall,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine that it could be business as usual.”

Toronto’s “weak mayor” political system already limits the executive’s influence and puts more power in the hands of the city council.

Ford has enjoyed a hard core of support from a segment of Toronto voters, particularly in the suburbs, who lifted him to power on a platform of controlling spending and cutting taxes, along the lines of the populist Tea Party movement in the United States.

 


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