…but the crack Mayor wants his brother, who may also be given to drugs to run
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who won global notoriety when he admitted to smoking crack during a drunken binge, has decided to drop his re-election bid after being diagnosed with a stomach tumour.
Ford’s brother Doug Ford will run in his place, opening a new chapter in the scandal-laden saga with his brother bringing to the campaign his own colourful history complete with his own drug allegations.
Analysts say this latest chapter may be short-lived, with Doug Ford’s candidacy unlikely to change the outcome of the mayoral election.
Rob Ford had been expected to lose after a string of revelations involving crack-smoking, public drunkenness and outrageous behaviour.
Both Ford brothers have been prominent in Toronto politics over the past four years but Doug Ford, now a city councillor, has mostly played the role of fiery defender of his younger brother.
Rob Ford, 45, announced his decision to drop out of the race Friday, two days after he was hospitalised for abdominal pain and the tumour was discovered. Biopsy results won’t be back for a week and a definitive diagnosis is pending.
He urged his brother to run in his place while he focused on his health.
“I have asked Doug to run to become the next Mayor of Toronto, because we need him. We cannot go backwards,” he said in a letter quoted widely by Canadian media.
His decision to step down brings a conclusion — for the time being — to a tumultuous period in office that will be remembered for the circus that erupted over his drug-taking revelations last year.
Ford burst into international headlines when an alleged drug dealer tried to sell a video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack.
At the time, Ford denied using the drug, but he later acknowledged smoking crack cocaine in a “drunken stupor” while saying he was not an addict.
Throughout it all, Doug Ford, 49, stood resolutely by his brother. He initially backed up his brother’s denials of substance abuse problems, accusing the media of a conspiracy, but expressed relief when the mayor sought help.
Doug Ford has himself been the subject of drug allegations. The Globe and Mail newspaper reported last year that he sold hashish for several years in the 1980s, allegations the city councillor has denied.
Nelson Wiseman, a University of Toronto political science professor, said he does not expect Doug Ford to overcome John Tory, a moderate conservative who is now considered the frontrunner. Leftist Olivia Chow is also in the race.
“The Ford years in City Hall are coming to an end in a few short weeks,” Wiseman said. “After this Toronto’s mayor will never again make it in the international news again.”
But some Torontonians appreciate the Ford brothers’ efforts to cut back on spending.
“I was going to vote for Rob,” said Satti Singh, 58, who said she tried to visit the mayor in the hospital but wasn’t allowed in. “He’s done good things for the city, he has saved us money, he’s about taking care of the poor. But now I’ll vote for Doug because he’ll continue what Rob started.”