TORONTO – Rob Ford’s brother plans to launch his election campaign this weekend for Toronto’s top job, which he put off Friday so he could spend some time with his ailing sibling as he undergoes treatment for a rare cancer.
Coun. Doug Ford threw his name in the ring a week ago when his brother dropped his re-election bid, but postponed the official launch while doctors conducted tests on a tumour that was discovered in the mayor’s abdomen.
Ford had previously announced he would kick off his campaign Friday, but his staff said it was delayed so he could spend more time with his younger sibling in hospital and go to meetings.
Chemotherapy is “tough” for his brother, Ford said as he entered the hospital Friday.
But he plans to start hitting the hustings Saturday in the family’s home turf in Toronto’s west end — a ward his brother held for a decade before becoming mayor in 2010.
Rob Ford is running as city councillor again, though it’s unclear whether he will be able to campaign given the debilitating medical treatments he’ll undergo ahead of the Oct. 27 vote.
Rob Ford tried to boost his brother’s election prospects from his hospital bed Thursday, issuing a sickly-sounding plea to voters to make him mayor so Doug could carry on his work.
Doug Ford said he’s looking forward to his first mayoral debate on Tuesday, where he’s expected to face off against former NDP MP Olivia Chow and John Tory, ex-leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
Asked if he’d had any time to prepare for it, Ford answered: “Yeah, for four years.”
“I’ve been debating for four years down at city hall with a lot tougher people,” he said.
Ford said he’ll also stick close to his brother’s election platform, which includes ambitious plans to expand the city’s subway system.
“Considering I was part of putting Rob’s platform together, part of the team for four years, we’re going to keep it pretty well the same,” Ford said.
The mayor has been diagnosed with malignant liposarcoma — a rare type of cancer that arises from fat cells and can attack a variety of soft tissues.
The 45-year-old father of two young children is expected to undergo two rounds of chemotherapy before doctors determine the next step in his treatment, which may include surgery or radiation.
His illness has thrust the infamous mayor into the international spotlight once again following a streak of scandals that turned him into an overnight celebrity and the butt of jokes on late-night TV hosts, dubbing him “the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto.”
But his role as mayor has been largely symbolic since last November, when he was stripped of most of his powers following his admissions of alcohol abuse and smoking crack during one of his “drunken stupors” after months of denials.
He put his re-election campaign on hold in April and entered rehab after being confronted with reports of a new video showing him allegedly smoking crack and an audio recording of him spewing profanities and making lewd comments about a fellow mayoral contender. Ford returned to office just over two months ago, but has been confined to hospital since Sept. 10.