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Toronto mayor defends Bieber after new charge, but not his music

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts during a budget meeting at City Hall in Toronto, January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Harris
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts during a budget meeting at City Hall in Toronto, January 30, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Harris

TORONTO (Reuters) - Justin Bieber has run afoul of police in both Canada and the United States in just one week, but the teenage pop star has at least one defender who knows something about negative attention: fellow Canadian and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

Ford, who has become a staple of late-night punch lines since he admitted in November that he had smoked crack cocaine while in a "drunken stupor", defended Bieber on Thursday during an interview on a Washington, D.C., radio show called Sports Junkies.

"Well, you know what, he's a young guy," said Ford, an avid football fan who is regular guest on the sports show.

"At 19 years old, I wish I was as successful as he was. He's 19 years old, guys. Think back to when you were 19."

Ford made the comment after one of the hosts call Bieber "Canada's worst export."

Asked if he was a fan of Bieber's music, Ford said his tastes leaned more toward classic rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and the Eagles.

"I'm 45 years old, so there's a big difference here," he said.

Bieber was charged on Wednesday with assaulting a limousine driver in Toronto in December. The singer's Canadian lawyer said in a statement that Bieber is not guilty.

Last week, Bieber was charged with driving under the influence in Miami after police say he was caught drag racing a rented Lamborghini.

Miami Beach police said Bieber told them he had taken a prescription medicine, smoked marijuana and consumed alcohol. Bieber has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Ford, who is running for re-election as the mayor of Canada's largest city, also faced fresh controversy on Wednesday after his sister's former boyfriend filed a lawsuit alleging Ford had conspired to have him threatened and beaten while in prison.

Asked about the lawsuit on the radio show, Ford declined to comment, saying the matter was before the courts. Ford's lawyer said the allegations were false and irresponsible.

(Reporting by Cameron French, additional reporting by Randall Palmer in Ottawa; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway)

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