TORONTO -- In the space of just a few hours Thursday, Rob Ford spouted an obscenity on live TV, refused to apologize, then did apologize, was scolded by Canada's oldest football team for wearing its jersey while making the remarks and begged the media to give his family privacy -- his wife, seldom seen in public, by his side.
The latest bizarre episode involving Toronto's besieged mayor set off another chorus of demands by politicians for him to leave -- not just to get help, but to resign for the good of the city.
Ford stubbornly refused to do so, and the province's premier said she would step in only if the council falls apart completely.
The dizzying cascade of events began as Ford arrived at city hall sporting a blue No. 12 Toronto Argonauts uniform with "Mayor Ford'"in white letters on the back.
As TV cameras broadcast live, Ford used crude language to deny allegations he told a female aide he was going to have oral sex with her. A staffer told police Ford had said he already had sex with the aide, court documents say.
"It says that I wanted to eat her pussy," Ford said. "I've never said that in my life to her. I would never do that. I'm happily married. I've got more than enough to eat at home."
Ford, 44, the father of two children, revealed he was receiving support from a team of health-care professionals but refused to elaborate.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who sponsored a motion Wednesday urging Ford to take a leave of absence, called the mayor's language "completely unacceptable" and said it was high time he resigned.
"He used the P-word in a very derogatory way," Minnan-Wong said.
"The mayor of our city should not be using language like that, he shouldn't be speaking about women like that."
Initially, Ford stood by his vulgar comments.
"If you're offended, I'm not apologizing, because put yourself in my shoes if someone said that about your husband or your wife," he shouted in a council session.
According to sections of court documents released Wednesday, an ex-staffer told police an intoxicated Ford made the comments at a downtown restaurant on St. Patrick's Day last year.
The alleged incident was one of several in the document that reported questionable or bizarre behaviour by Ford: driving after guzzling vodka, sniffing cocaine and apparently consorting with prostitutes. Ford called the allegations outright lies.
Just hours later, with his wife Renata nearby, the mayor apologized for what he called his impulsive, "graphic" remarks blamed on months of mostly self-inflicted stress, culminating in the latest revelations he said pushed him over the line.
"When you attack my integrity as a father and as a husband, I see red," he said.
As media trailed her into the city hall basement, Renata Ford came to his defence, saying he did not need to step down because "that's why we have elections."
The mayor, who has admitted smoking crack cocaine and being in drunken stupors in public, railed against suggestions he had taken a suspected female prostitute to city hall.
He also denied his company at the restaurant was a paid escort named Alana. "I don't appreciate people calling Alana a prostitute," said Ford, who called her a friend.
"I can't put up with it anymore. Litigation will be starting shortly."
Ford named three former staffers: chief of staff Mark Towhey, special assistant Isaac Ransom and spokesman George Christopoulos.
He also said he would sue a waiter who, according to the documents, told police he saw Ford and a woman snorting cocaine in a restaurant backroom.
Noted libel lawyer Julian Porter said a defamation suit would have little chance of success because people are protected when they talk to police as long as they don't maliciously invent anything.
Ford did say he "might have" done some drinking and driving but, as he has done frequently, immediately went on the offensive.
"I'm not perfect. Maybe you are, but I'm not, OK?" he told journalists. "I know none of you guys have ever, ever had a drink and got behind the wheel."
On Wednesday, council overwhelmingly passed Minnan-Wong's motion asking Ford to take a leave. Council will hold special meetings today and Monday to try stripping Ford of his mayoralty and hand them to the deputy mayor in what another councillor called an attempted coup.
-- The Canadian Press