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TORONTO (AP) — Amid cries of "Shame! Shame!" scandal-plagued Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was stripped of the last of his meaningful powers Monday after a heated City Council debate in which he argued with members of the public, charged hecklers and knocked a councilwoman down.
Ford called the move a "coup d'etat" and vowed an "outright war" in next year's mayoral election.
"What's happening here today is not a democratic process, it's a dictatorship process," the 44-year-old mayor declared.
The council lacks the power to remove Ford from office unless he is convicted of a crime. Instead, members sought the strongest recourse available after recent revelations that Ford smoked crack cocaine and was drunk at public events.
Ford later said in a TV interview Monday night on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that he was "finished" with alcohol, acknowledging that his drinking had resulted in "excessive, stupid, immature behavior."
Earlier Monday, the council voted overwhelmingly in favor of slashing Ford's office budget by 60 percent and allowing his staff to move to the deputy mayor, who now takes on many of the mayor's former powers. Ford now effectively has no legislative power and no longer chairs the executive committee, although he retains his title and ability to represent Toronto at official functions.
The debate became raucous after Ford paced around the council chamber and traded barbs with members of the public. The speaker asked security to clear the gallery and a recess was called, but not before Ford barreled toward his detractors, mowing into Councilor Pam McConnell.
Another councilor asked Ford to apologize. Ford said he was rushing to the defense of his brother, Councilor Doug Ford, and accidentally knocked McConnell down.
"I picked her up," he said. "I ran around because I thought my brother was getting into an altercation."
Visibly shaken after Ford ran her over, McConnell, a petite woman in her 60s, said she never expected the chaos that broke out.
"This is the seat of democracy. It is not a football field. I just wasn't ready. Fortunately, the mayor's staff was in front. They stopped me from hitting my head against the wall. I just need to sit down," McConnell said.
The motion to strip Ford of his powers was revised from a tougher version to ward off potential legal challenges by letting Ford keep his title and represent the city at official functions. The city's lawyer said Ford was not reduced to being "mayor in name only."
"Obviously I cannot do the job with eight people in the office with a quarter of the former mayor's budget," Ford said.
Council members said it was necessary to restrict the mayor's powers given his erratic behavior.
"Mayor Ford has had many choices. ... Would he change his behavior? Would he step aside and seek help?" said Councilor John Filion. "The mayor unfortunately has chosen the path of denial. Now it's time to take away the keys."
"The new allegations pile up faster than the old ones can be dealt with. If many Torontonians were initially fascinated by the drama, they are now fed up with it. They want it to end," Filion said.
Far from being chastened, Ford has vowed to take the council to court and insists he will seek re-election next year.
"It's a coup d'etat — that's all this is," Ford said as he arrived at City Hall on Monday morning.
He earlier claimed on a radio station that councilors were against his agenda to save taxpayers money. "If they want me out, they should just call a snap election," Ford told radio station AM640.
However, the council rejected a motion proposing such an election, and also refused to give Ford another month to get an expert medical opinion on whether he was capable of carrying out his duties.
Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former Ford ally, said it's about his conduct.
"This is about embarrassing the city, his involvement with gangs, his involvement with crack cocaine. This is about his admission that he gets behind the wheel while drinking," Minnan-Wong said.
"He's the worst spokesman for the city of Toronto right now."
Toronto, a city of 2.7 million people, has been abuzz with the Ford melodrama since May, when news outlets reported that he had been caught on video smoking crack.
Recently released court documents show Ford became the subject of a police investigation after those reports surfaced. Ford, who denied there was any incriminating video, now acknowledges the reports were accurate.
In interviews with police, former Ford staffers have made further accusations, saying the mayor drank heavily, sometimes drove while intoxicated and pressured a female staffer to engage in oral sex.
On Thursday, Ford spouted an obscenity on live television while denying the sex allegation, saying he was "happily married" and using crude language to assert that he enjoys enough oral sex at home.
Last week, after admitting to excessive drinking and buying illegal drugs, Ford disclosed that he is seeking medical help. But he and his family insist he is not an addict and does not need rehab.
In his Monday interview with the CBC, the mayor said that he had only smoked crack once. "This is an isolated incident," he said.
Ford admitted that he had bought marijuana since becoming mayor. But he denied that he has driven drunk, and said he was "finished" with drinking.
"I've had a come-to-Jesus moment if you want to call it that," Ford said. "Just the humiliation and the belittling and the people I've left down. And it's all because of alcohol. Excessive, stupid, immature behavior and that's it."
Ford said he had let his family down. He said it "ripped his heart out" when Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, a family friend, recently became choked up when he was asked about Ford.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper — like Ford a Conservative — was in Toronto on Monday to meet with area Parliament members from his party. Harper's office issued a statement which said the latest allegations against Ford "are troubling."
"Our Government does not condone illegal drug use, especially by elected officials while in office," it said.
Ford and his brother made their debut on a current events television show broadcast Monday night called "Ford Nation" on the conservative tabloid Sun News Network in Canada.
Rob Ford told viewers they would see a change in him over the next few months. "I'll take a urine sample right now," Ford said on the show which was taped Sunday.
With Ford refusing to step aside, even temporarily, the City Council took its first steps to weaken his powers on Friday, voting 39-3 to suspend his authority to appoint and dismiss the deputy mayor and the executive committee. The council also voted to give the deputy mayor authority to handle any civic emergency.
Ford was elected three years ago with overwhelming support from Toronto's conservative-leaning outer suburbs, where many voters felt angry about what they considered wasteful spending and elitist politics at City Hall. He campaigned on promises to "stop the gravy train" by curbing public spending and keeping taxes low.
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian television report that aired Sunday night said Canadian spies targeted Brazil's Mines and Energy Ministry.
The report on Globo television was based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and was the latest showing that Latin America's biggest nation has been a target for U.S., British and now Canadian spy agencies.
The report said the "metadata" of phone calls and emails from and to the Brazilian ministry were targeted by Canada's Communications Security Establishment to map the ministry's communications, using a software program called Olympia. It didn't indicate if emails were read or phone calls listened to.
Brazilian Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao told Globo that "Canada has interests in Brazil, above all in the mining sector. I can't say if the spying served corporate interests or other groups."
American journalist Glenn Greenwald, based in Rio de Janeiro, worked with Globo on its report. Greenwald broke the first stories about the NSA's global spy program focusing on Internet traffic and phone calls.
Globo previously reported that the communications of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and also state-run oil company Petrobras were targeted by NSA spying.
Earlier, Greenwald wrote articles in the O Globo newspaper saying that the NSA was gathering metadata on billions of emails, phone calls and other Internet data flowing through Brazil, an important transit point for global communications.
The fallout over the spy programs led Rousseff last month to cancel a planned visit to the U.S., where she was to be the guest of honor for a state dinner.
Rousseff last month spoke at the United Nations General Assembly and called for international regulations on data privacy and limiting espionage programs targeting the Internet.
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Flooding has devastated much of southern Alberta, killing three people and prompting authorities to evacuate the western Canadian city of Calgary's entire downtown -- an estimated 75,000 people.
Inside the city's hockey arena, the waters reached as high as the 10th row. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the flooding "stunning." Harper, a Calgary resident, said he never imagined there would be a flood of this magnitude in this part of Canada.
Overflowing rivers washed out roads and bridges, soaked homes, knocked out power and turned streets into dirt-brown waterways around southern Alberta.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Patricia Neely told reporters two of the three dead were recovered.