Crowd laughs at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford during debate

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford participates in a mayoral debate hosted by the Canadian Tamil Congress in Scarborough, Ontario, in this file photo taken July 15, 2014. FRED THORNHILL, REUTERS

TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford called a business crowd "elitist" after the crowd laughed repeatedly at him during a debate ahead of next month's election.

The scandal-plagued mayor became an international celebrity last year after he acknowledged using crack in a "drunken stupor" after months of denials. Ford returned to work June 30 after a two-month rehab stint for drug and alcohol abuse. His behavior embarrassed many residents of Canada's largest city.

Ford took part in a debate at the Toronto Region Board of Trade on Thursday. When John Tory, a candidate running to replace Ford in the Oct. 27 election, poked holes into some of Ford's arguments the crowd laughed mockingly at Ford.

Ford later said "they can laugh all they want. I have a proven track record of success."

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