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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to take leave of absence


Apr. 17, 2014: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks to supporters during his re-election campaign launch in Toronto. (AP/The Canadian Press)

Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will take a leave of absence to seek treatment for substance abuse, he said Wednesday, as a report surfaced about a second video of the mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.

"I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time," Ford said in statement late Wednesday. He is seeking re-election in the Oct. 27 vote.

"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," he said.

Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, told Fox News late Wednesday that "it is a long campaign" (for Ford) and that a short break is a good thing. He did not give an estimate of how long the mayor's "break" would be.

Morris said he spoke to Ford earlier Wednesday and said the mayor has accepted that he has a problem.

"He acknowledges he has a substance abuse problem and he wants to do something about it," Morris told The Associated Press.

Morris declined to comment on two recent recordings that have apparently surfaced -- one of which allegedly depicts Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine in his sister's basement.

Two Globe and Mail reporters viewed the video from a self-professed drug dealer showing Ford taking a drag from a pipe early Saturday morning, according to the newspaper.

The video is part "of a package of three videos the dealer said was surreptitiously filmed around 1:15 a.m., and which he says he is now selling for 'at least six figures,'" the paper reported.

Ford did not address the reported video in his statement Wednesday.

News reports of the existence of an earlier video of Ford apparently smoking crack first surfaced last May, igniting a media firestorm around Ford.

Ford, who launched his campaign for re-election earlier this year, acknowledged last year after months of denials that he smoked crack in a "drunken stupor" after police said they obtained a video that appears to show him smoking crack. The video has never been released to the public.

Ford has careened from one scandal to another, becoming a national embarrassment for many Canadians.

Also on Wednesday, The Toronto Sun reported that it obtained an audio recording of Ford making offensive remarks about other politicians at a bar on Monday night.

Ford has refused to resign, despite mounting pressure after a string of incidents, from public drunkenness to an appearance in another video that showed him threatening "murder" in an incoherent rant. Toronto's city council has stripped him of most of his powers.

Ford said last year that he quit drinking alcohol after having a "come to Jesus moment" but later acknowledged that he drank again.  A number of recordings of the mayor intoxicated have surfaced since.

Ford acknowledged "rocky moments over the past year" during his official campaign launch earlier this month but vowed to fight harder than ever to win re-election.

Ford, who was the first to register as a candidate in January, invoked the spirit of second chances during a speech in front of supporters.

A message left with Ford's chief of staff was not returned.  Ford's lawyer, Morris, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment on the reports that emerged Wednesday night.

John Tory, who is running against Ford in the election, said he is relieved that Ford is seeking help but that the mayor should resign.

"Like Torontonians across the city, I am deeply disappointed by these revelations of Mayor Ford's behavior," Tory said. "For the good of the city, I call on Mayor Ford to resign."

Fox News' John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.