TORONTO — Toronto's embattled mayor on Wednesday rejected the advice of city council allies to take a temporary leave of absence, returning to work a day after acknowledging he had smoked crack.
Deepening the crisis, Rob Ford's long-time policy adviser resigned, continuing an exodus that started in May when news reports emerged of a video showing the mayor smoking what appears to be crack. Police announced last week they had a copy of the video, which has not been released publicly.
After months of evading the question, Ford acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that he smoked crack "probably a year ago" when he was in a "drunken stupor." But he has refused to step aside despite immense pressure.
Ford arrived at City Hall just past noon on Wednesday but took a back stairway to his office to avoid a crush of media.
The mayor later blew a kiss to members of the media as he gave a tour of his office to school children.
More than 200 people protested outside City Hall.
"Hey hey! Ho ho! Rob Ford has got to go!" they chanted.
City Councilor James Pasternak said the controversy consuming Canada's largest city cannot go on day after day. He said several city councilors asked Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly to approach Ford and "orchestrate a dignified exit from city hall."
Kelly met with Ford and suggested he take a temporary leave until later this year or early next year, but Ford rejected that idea. Councilor Frances Nunziata, also a Ford ally, said they are all frustrated Ford won't step aside temporarily.
"We're trying to give him sound advice as supporters," she said. "He needs to listen and he's not listening and I'm very disappointed."