Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, questioned by a city council debating a motion Wednesday urging him to step aside, acknowledged buying illegal drug and said his infamous crack-smoking incident was "sheer stupidity" that would not happen again.
"I ask forgiveness, I have apologized, I want to move on, that's all I can say right now," Ford said.
At one point, the 44-year-old mayor was asked directly if he had purchased illegal drugs in the past two years. After a pause of almost nine seconds, the mayor replied, "Yes, I have."
The embattled mayor, who took office three years ago, strongly rejected any call for him to step aside, saying he has also carried out his duties and would continue to do so.
Ford said he had "no one else to blame but myself" for a crack-smoking incident during a drunken stupor, but that it would never happen again.
"I asked for forgiveness, I have apologized, I want to move on," he told the council members. "That's all I can say right now."
Council member Jaye Robinson opened the often heated debate by presenting a petition signed by 30 of the 44 city council members asking the mayor of Canada's largest city to step aside.
"Our city's reputation has been damaged," she said, the CBC reports. "Together we stand to ask you to step aside and take a leave of absence. Let's get on with city business."
The petition reads in part:
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. Today we stand together to ask that you step aside and take a leave of absence to address your challenges privately, outside of the public eye.
It was presented as the council took up a formal motion by council member Denzil Minnan-Wong, a longtime Ford ally turned critic, that also called on Ford to apologize for misleading the public and to cooperate with a police investigation.
The mayor, who snacked on slices of apple during the debate, was jovial heading into the council chambers The Toronto Sun reports. "We're gonna have some fun today," he told reporters.
But the debate frequently turned heated, with people on all sides shouting, prompting Speaker Frances Nunziata to urge council members to "be civil" and "respect each other."
During one exchange, Minnan-Wong told the council that the mayor, en route to the council chambers, had stepped in front of him in a threatening manner and demanded that Ford apologize.
In the background, the mayor's brother, City Council member Doug Ford, shouted, "You're too much, brother."
The mayor of Canada's largest city also protested, saying, "I did not threaten him in any way, shape or form."
Ford, who took office in December 2010, has refused to step aside despite immense political pressure. He says voters should determine his political fate when he is up for re-election in 2014.
The debate by the council, which does not have the power to remove Ford from office, follows months of growing scandal stemming from a report by the U.S. website Gawker and The Toronto Star that Ford had been caught on video smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine.
The mayor initially denied the charge and questioned the existence of a video.
Last week, after Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced that investigators had recovered two videos, including the notorious crack cocaine tape, Ford acknowledged his actions, and said that he was in a drunken condition.
Police have not released either video, saying they are evidence for use in an extortion case against the mayor's "close friend" Alexander Lisi.
Within days of the police statement a second video emerged, this one showing a clearly inebriated Ford stumbling around a room, gesticulating angrily. "I'm gonna kill that (expletive) guy. I'm telling you, it's first-degree murder," the visibly agitated says on the video.
Ford later acknowledged his actions on the video, saying he had been "extremely, extremely inebriated."