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Rob Ford's mother: 'I had no idea it was as serious'

By Faith Karimi and Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 1:49 AM EDT, Fri May 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lawyer says Rob Ford goes to Chicago, doesn't specify why
  • Rob Ford's brother Doug: "This is not an easy thing for anyone to do"
  • His break comes after a new report linked him to substance abuse

(CNN) -- The mother of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said she didn't know her son's substance abuse was that bad until he announced he was getting help.

"I had no idea it was as serious as it was," Diane Ford told CTV News. " But then he doesn't live with me so I don't know what he does every minute of every day."

Her son said Wednesday he is taking a break from his re-election campaign and his mayoral duties to seek help for alcohol abuse -- hours after a local newspaper reported on a new video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine.

"It's not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life," Ford said in a statement Wednesday. "I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time."

His statement came after the Toronto Globe and Mail reported on the new video.

Family relieved

Ford's brother, Doug, said he was relieved his brother was finally getting help.

"As an older brother, I am relieved that Rob has faced his problems and has decided to seek professional help," said Doug Ford Jr., a Toronto city councilor. "This is not an easy thing for anyone to do, especially when you're the mayor of the city."

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In the video purportedly filmed Saturday, the newspaper reports Ford is seen smoking what a drug dealer described to the paper as crack cocaine from a copper-colored pipe. Two Globe and Mail reporters viewed the video, and the publication said it was shot in what appears to be Ford's sister's basement.

Opponents jump in

The paper said the substance in the pipe could not be confirmed.

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's opponents in the mayoral race said he should have stepped down long ago. The election is October 27.

"It's obvious that Mr. Ford is a sick man. It's obvious that he has a serious substance abuse problem," said Olivia Chow, who added that she wished him strength in his recovery.

"He had his chance," Chow said. "Last year, everyone said he needs to get help. He didn't. The time to take a leave of absence was last year."

Another recording

Chow and another candidate, Karen Stintz, also criticized Ford for comments attributed to him in an audio recording that was posted on a Toronto newspaper's website.

CNN has not confirmed that the voice on the recording obtained by the Toronto Sun is Ford's. The mayor told a Sun columnist, "I wouldn't say that ... I am appalled."

In the recording, reportedly made Monday, a male voice is heard saying of Stintz: "I'd like to f****** jam her."

"I am disappointed by the misogynistic language used by Rob Ford," Stintz told reporters. "The only people who can remove Rob Ford from office are the people of Toronto. I have faith in the people of this city. Rob Ford is not Toronto. We need to move forward."

Leave is immediate

Shortly after the newspaper confronted the mayor about the alleged crack smoking video, Ford announced he was taking a break to get help.

His lawyer, Dennis Morris, said the leave begins immediately.

Morris later said that Ford had flown to Chicago, though he wouldn't comment on what the mayor was doing there -- including whether or not he'd go into rehab in that city or nearby.

Earlier, Morris told the Globe that he questioned the authenticity of the video, and said it is hard to prove what the Mayor is smoking.

Fall from grace

Ford's fall from grace started in May 2013 when a cell phone video taken months earlier appeared to show him smoking crack cocaine.

Despite intense public pressure, he remained defiant and denied using any illicit drugs. In November, the city council stripped him of most of his power as mayor.

That didn't stop Ford, though. He ignored calls to enter rehab or resign, instead vowing "outright war" on the city council.

None of this stopped Ford from seeking another term in office, something he's done for the past few months despite continued public ridicule and other challenges.

In January, he admitted he had suffered a "minor setback" after a video posted on social media showed him babbling about the city's police chief while at a fast-food restaurant.

At the time, he insisted that he'd had a small amount to drink, but he hadn't taken any drugs.

CNN's Paula Newton and Catherine Shoichet contributed to this report

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