Doug Ford launches mayoral campaign

Rob Ford's older brother spends time with hospital-ridden mayor

TORONTO – Rob Ford’s brother Doug officially launched his campaign for Toronto mayor Saturday in the shadow of his ailing sibling, who he said was “coaching me all the way” despite his hospitalization.

Doug Ford kicked things off with a campaign-office pep talk to a joyful throng of supporters who cheered and chanted “I love you.”

“Thank you, thank you. My heart is beating right now,” he said to applause.

And he brought word from his hospitalized brother, saying the controversial mayor thanks everyone in Toronto for their kind words during his illness

“We are humbled and grateful for the overwhelming support,” Doug Ford said.

Rob Ford remains in hospital receiving treatment for a rare form of cancer, prompting him to decide not to seek re-election _ he’s instead running for a seat on council.

Doug Ford announced he would enter the race earlier this month.

After delaying his campaign launch and making several visits to his brother in hospital, Doug set things rolling with a brief speech, saying “now it is time to get out there and meet the people.”

Striking a positive note, he promised his campaign would “convey a vision, a vision of continuing prosperity” stemming from his brother’s term as mayor.

He then set off on a round of door knocking, getting backing from residents working in their yards and from passing motorists.

“You’ve got my support,” said one man working on his car.

Though Rob Ford couldn’t be there in person he was still lending a hand to his brother’s campaign, Doug Ford said.

“He’s enthused about the election,” Doug said.

“He’s coaching me all the way.”

Added Doug Ford: “I don’t know how we’re going to hold him down there (in hospital). He wants to get out on the campaign trail himself.”

Ford, a city councillor, had been managing his brother’s re-election drive, but now finds himself trading jabs with the two main rivals _ former NDP MP Olivia Chow and ex-Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory,

The three will face off for the first time in a debate on Tuesday.

Doug Ford has been his brother’s staunchest defender during months of scandal involving Rob Ford’s admitted drug use, heaving drinking and eye popping verbal gaffes.

The Toronto election is Oct. 27.