OTTAWA — Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s approval rating has barely suffered since he admitted to smoking crack and binge drinking, according to a poll published Friday. According to a telephone survey conducted on Wednesday, Ford retains the support of 42 percent of voters in Canada’s biggest city — essentially unchanged in the two weeks since his confession. This marks only a 1 percentage point drop in the same survey by Forum Research since Nov. 4, despite Ford having admitted on Nov. 5 that he had smoked crack in a “drunken stupor.” Since then, Ford has faced a litany of new but unproven allegations of drunken hell-raising, has used obscene language in public while denying a sexual harassment change and accidentally knocked a female council member to the ground during a heated debate.
The populist fiscal conservative’s career suffered a severe blow this week when Toronto’s city council stripped him of the majority of his powers and duties, but he remains determined to fight on. And his support base remains strong among those the pollsters described as the poor, the least educated, males, Catholics, those with children and those whose ancestry is other than British. Ford has threatened to take legal action to regain his lost powers, and on Thursday he was in defiant form as he made his first public speech since his misconduct sparked headlines around the world. “We’ve reduced Council and the mayor’s budget by CA$6.4 million over four years,” he boasted, adding: “Even more in the last three days.” Monday’s vote slashed the mayor’s annual CA$2 million office budget by more than 60 percent, and Ford’s quip provoked chuckles in the audience, according to video of the event distributed on Friday. A grinning Ford took a bow before adding: “I didn’t support the last three days.” Ford also claimed he has transformed Toronto over the past three years of his mayoral term into an “economic powerhouse.” His boast that he has saved Toronto CA$1 billion, however, has been widely criticized as exaggerated. Still, neither the disputed claims nor the scandal itself appear to have negatively affected Ford’s popularity. The Forum telephone survey of 1,049 Toronto voters was conducted on Nov. 20, and is considered accurate within three percentage points.