Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to the City Council that he has bought illegal drugs in the past two years, confessing to councilors debating whether he should take a leave of absence. (Associated Press)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted for the first time Wednesday that he has bought illegal drugs. His statement was a response to a question at a hearing in which almost all of the city’s councilors voted to approve a letter urging Ford to temporarily step aside.

Ford, who has been the recipient of intense public scrutiny and ridicule following news reports that he had been filmed smoking crack cocaine, has previously admitted to using the drug. Today’s hearing, however, was the first occasion on which the mayor has acknowledged illegally purchasing drugs as well:

Ford paused for a long time after Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong asked him if he had bought illicit narcotics in the past two years.

Then Ford replied, “Yes I have.”

“I understand the embarrassment that I have caused. I am humiliated by it,” Ford said.

But he then turned defiant, saying he was not an addict of any sort and rebuffed suggestions from council members that he should seek help. He insisted he is a “positive role model for kids who are down and out.”

“I’m most definitely keeping this job,” he said. “I am not leaving here. I’m going to sit here and going to attend every meeting.”

Associated Press

Last month, Toronto law enforcement officials said they had recovered the video in which Ford is reportedly seen smoking crack. A few days later, Ford acknowledged having smoked crack, saying he had done so in one of his “drunken stupors.”

The city’s police chief, however, said that the video provided insufficient grounds for criminal charges against Ford. In the absence of criminal charges, Toronto’s City Council cannot force the mayor from office. He has vowed to seek reelection when his current term ends next year.