Toronto city leaders on Wednesday urged disgraced Mayor Rob Ford to resign or take a leave of absence to "address your challenges privately," calling his admissions to smoking crack cocaine a distraction and a stain on the city's reputation.
But the embarrassing spectacle in Canada's largest city continued to spin out of control, with Ford conceding under questioning by City Council members that he has bought illegal drugs in the last two years.
News commentators following the theatrics described the showdown at City Hall as a kind of "public intervention" to force a substance abuser to confront his addictions.
As the City Council members assembled for discussion of a motion calling for Ford to step down or take leave to address his personal problems, the mayor was accused of using his considerable girth to block the councilman bringing the motion of censure against him, CTV and others reported. It was a menacing stare-down caught by the army of photographers covering the packed proceedings.
The confrontation occurred between Ford and City Councilman Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former ally of the mayor who complained to the gathering that Ford had approached him "in a threatening manner."
Minnan-Wong's motion calls on the mayor to step down for the good of the city. It has no power of enforcement, however, as Toronto's municipal covenant doesn't provide for recall elections and the city council members can't remove an elected mayor.
Nevertheless, 30 of the city's 44 council members signed a letter with the same appeal that was submitted to Ford on Wednesday.
"Over the past six months, and especially the past few weeks, we have grown increasingly concerned by the seemingly endless cycle of allegations, denials and belated admissions about your behaviour," the letter reads.
"Toronto is distracted and for good reason. Our city's reputation has been damaged and continues to suffer, and it has become difficult to focus on the pressing and substantive issues facing City Council."
Canadian and international television news channels carried the City Hall confrontation live, including Minnan-Wong's question to Ford whether he had purchased illegal drugs within the last two years.
After a long pause, Ford replied: "Yes, I have."
Ford said at the start of the hearing that he can't undo his mistakes, and reiterated that he doesn't need to take time off for rehabilitation because he isn't addicted to drugs or alcohol.
"I'm humiliated by it, but I can't change the past," Ford said. "All I can do is move on and that's what I'm doing."
Ford, 44, has another year on the mandate he won in 2010 and has vowed to fulfill it, reiterating during Wednesday's session that he intends to run for reelection next October.
The mayor last week admitted to smoking crack about a year earlier, "in one of my drunken stupors." He had denied allegations of doing so for the previous six months, after the Toronto Star and gossip website Gawker reported viewing a video in May in which Ford can be seen puffing on a glass pipe in the company of known gang members and making derogatory remarks about gays and minorities.
Ford was forced to concede that he had lied when Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced at a Nov. 1 news conference that the video had been recovered in a related drug investigation.
Two days after the crack admission and Ford's assurance that he had "nothing left to hide," the Star on Thursday posted another video on its website in which an enraged Ford rants and threatens to kill someone, wildly gesticulating how he would rip out the offender's throat in an act of "first-degree murder."