Rob Ford more than an hour late for speech, says he was stuck in elevator

TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford’s re-election pitch to some of the city’s movers and shakers was nearly derailed Thursday when he almost missed the event, saying he had been stuck in an elevator.

Ford was scheduled to deliver a lunch-hour speech at the Economic Club of Canada — an event that was set to run from noon to 1:30 p.m., but the mayor only made it to the podium shortly before 1:15 p.m.

“I want to thank the Economic Club of Canada for hosting today’s event and getting me stuck in the elevator for 45 minutes,” he told the crowd of roughly 180 business people.

He went on to tout his fiscal record and highlighted what he considers key issues in the fall’s municipal election, including transit and infrastructure.

The president and CEO of the Economic Club of Canada said she was trapped in the same hotel elevator with the mayor.

Rhiannon Traill said the group — which included members of the mayor’s staff as well as hotel employees — took a freight elevator to “avoid all the traffic” in the lobby, where dozens of reporters were waiting for Ford’s arrival.

But she denied it was an attempt to avoid the media.

Ford was “so calm and gracious” during the ordeal, Traill said, noting they discussed his speech and his campaign for re-election.

There was no cellphone service inside the elevator, but the group was able to call for help using the built-in emergency system, she said.

“Unfortunately, we were stuck in between floors so they couldn’t get us out for a while,” she said.

Despite their best efforts, the group wasn’t able to alert event organizers of the reason for the delay, Traill said.

The hotel refused to comment on the incident.

Several members of the business crowd left before Ford’s arrival, however, with one saying he had too much work to do and couldn’t wait any longer.

Tony Chow said he was “a little bit” disappointed by the lag.

Some of those who caught the mayor’s talk said they were impressed by his resilience.

“I commend him for being able to address an audience after being stuck in an elevator for 45 minutes,” said Jim Regan.

Regan said he signed up for the event to show support for Ford, and refused to discuss the mayor’s latest controversy — a YouTube video that shows him in a rambling, profane rant in a Jamaican accent.

Ford — who had vowed last year that he had given up alcohol — has admitted he was drinking and called Monday’s videotaped incident at a restaurant called Steak Queen a “minor setback.”

The clip posted anonymously on Tuesday shows an incoherent Ford using Jamaican swear words and other profanities, at one point aiming his curses at Toronto’s police chief.

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