TORONTO — The end did not come for Rob Ford, the mayor of this city, when he proclaimed his proclivity for oral sex on live television.
It did not come when the police confirmed that they had a video of him smoking crack, something he had repeatedly denied, nor when he showed up drunk at a local festival, careened equally plastered on a dance floor, or when the local Santa parade told him to please stay away.
It did not even come Monday, during a City Council meeting at which members voted to take away most of his budget and staff while he cantered around the chamber, heckling voters and knocking a City Council member to the ground.
It seems Mr. Ford, who, absent a decision to quit, will remain at the helm of Canada’s largest and most affluent city at least until his term ends next year. He says he has far too many phone calls left to make.
“Are you aware that 2,200 people call me?” Mr. Ford repeatedly said Monday, adding that he also gets 138,000 emails a year that require a response, by way of explaining why he ought to keep his budget and staff. “I’m still doing the job!”
Mr. Ford, who rode to power in 2010 on a populist wave of suburban rage after 10 years as a city councilor, has a long and well-known history of profane, intemperate outbursts. But his recent behavior, which has mortified many of his constituents, has also enhanced his appeal with many of his core voters — working-class residents of the unified suburbs, the people he calls the Ford Nation.
But in the six months since The Toronto Star and the website Gawker first reported viewing a video of the mayor smoking crack, his support has plummeted among the wealthy conservative voters in the city’s core who once liked his antitax message.
On Monday, the Council voted to cut the mayor’s budget by 60 percent, leaving him with a skeletal staff. They have also eliminated most of his authority, important powers like appointing key city leaders and responding to emergencies, leaving him as little more than the face of Toronto, the role he nevertheless relishes most. Under local law, the Council has no authority to impeach or remove the mayor, nor can it hold a recall campaign.
Undaunted, Mr. Ford has indicated he will test the Council’s unprecedented moves in court. “What is happening today is not a democratic process,” he said. “It’s a dictatorship process.”
For the lawmakers and people of Toronto, known to much of the world as a cosmopolitan city with copious bike lanes, hockey’s Maple Leafs and general placidity, the endurance of Mr. Ford, so rotund and erratic that he often appears on the brink of spontaneous explosion, has become nothing short of an obsession.
“I just had to see this for myself,” said Lynn Murray, a retired teacher, who sat riveted in the Council chamber as Mr. Ford spoke. “This place used to be so civilized.”
The majority of his fellow Council members wish he would simply go away.
“This is a real crisis,” said Sarah Doucette, a Council member. “The impact on our city is that we’ve become a laughingstock. How can we encourage business to move here?”
Ms. Doucette said she gets loads of emails from concerned parents; in the High Park area, children have taken to a schoolyard game called, “Cops and Rob Ford.”
Just a decade ago, Mr. Ford was a brash if marginal lawmaker from Etobicoke, a suburb with a large working-class and immigrant population in the western edge of Toronto, one of several small cities that became part of a large-scale Toronto under unification in 1998. Etobicoke and some of the other suburbs have not seen the same explosive economic growth as the old city, where real estate, arts, money and cultural life have flourished. The old Toronto values, particularly discouraging the use of cars, clashed with those suburbanites.
As a councilor Mr. Ford usually took positions to the right of his conservative peers, often on the wrong side of 42-to-2 votes, including an annual attempt to eliminate money for the watering of plants at City Hall. “I was astonished when he became mayor,” said John Filion, the Council member who wrote the measure to strip Mr. Ford of his budget.