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Toronto's scandal-hit mayor still has 42 percent approval

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends a special council meeting at City Hall in Toronto November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Harris
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attends a special council meeting at City Hall in Toronto November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Aaron Harris

By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - More than 40 percent of Toronto voters still approve of the job Mayor Rob Ford has done, even after he admitted smoking crack cocaine and city council stripped him of much of his authority.

A Forum Research survey of 1,049 Toronto voters released on Friday showed that 42 percent of respondents approve of the job Ford has been doing as mayor of Canada's largest city.

That's down from 44 percent in a similar poll two weeks ago, but up from 39 percent in late October, just before Ford admitted he smoked crack cocaine while in office.

Indeed, support for Ford, who has seen much of his authority stripped by city council over the past week, is still comfortably in the 37-49 percent range that he has polled in over the past two years, Forum said.

The result suggests that Ford could still be competitive in next year's municipal election, although only 33 percent of those polled said they would vote for him in 2014.

Ford swept to power in 2010 with a pledge to cut costs at city hall, winning 47 percent of the vote, as two left-leaning candidates split the rest.

"What we can see from this is that, to his core supporters... who comprise about one third of the voters in Toronto, Rob Ford is a viable candidate for mayor," Forum President Lorne Bozinoff said in a statement. "Nothing more he can do will surprise them or put them off."

Ford's admission that he smoked crack "in one of my drunken stupors" followed police revelations that they have been investigating the mayor as part of a drug probe.

Ford has also admitted he bought illegal drugs and has driven after drinking. He has been lampooned on late-night TV for his erratic behavior, which includes an expletive-filled rant caught on camera.

While Ford's core supporters remain loyal, the poll showed a strong majority of Torontonians believe he is not fit for office.

Sixty percent said Ford should resign, and the same number said they approve of recent measures to shift much of his authority to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

Sixty-nine percent said they believe the mayor has a substance abuse problem, which Ford denies.

Nineteen percent of those polled said they would like to see Ford as prime minister of Canada, a goal Ford mentioned in a television interview earlier this week.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative who takes pride in a tough law-and-order agenda, said on Thursday that the idea of Ford as prime minister was "not something I'm in favor of".

(Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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