TORONTO — 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 his repeated outbursts of erratic behavior.
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.