By Kendra Hamilton, Kathleen Jolly and Chantilly Post
Rob Ford has officially withdrawn his name from the ballot in the Toronto mayoral election while his brother, Doug Ford, is now running for Toronto’s top job.
The developments came in a frantic countdown to the 2 p.m. deadline Friday when candidates can either join or drop off the ballot for the city vote on Oct. 27.
Ford issued a statement from his hospital bed at Mount Sinai hospital where he was recently diagnosed with a tumour in his abdomen.
My heart is heavy when I tell you that I’m unable to continue my campaign for reelection as your Mayor. While I’m unable to commit to the heavy schedule required for a Mayoral candidate I will not turn my back on Ward 2. I will be running as Councillor of Ward 2, to represent the fine folks that have become my neighbours and friends over these past 14 years.
The mayor passing the torch to his brother is the latest development involving the Fords, who’ve often dominated Toronto’s political scene for the last four years.
I’ve asked Doug to finish what we started together, so that all we’ve accomplished isn’t washed away. I have asked Doug to run to become the next Mayor of Toronto, because we need him. We cannot go backwards.
In the final hour leading up to the deadline to become a mayoral candidate Doug Ford filed his paperwork at Toronto City Hall.
“I do think it’s a game changer the mayor stepping down under these very unfortunate circumstances,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher.
“I’m not sure that (Doug) has the same level of love throughout the city of Toronto,” she said. “I don’t think he has quite the credibility that his brother has but he does have the Ford name so we’ll have to wait and see.”
Rob Ford will now be running for councilor in Ward 2, a seat that he held for ten years before becoming mayor in 2010.
According to the city of Toronto’s website, Ford nephew Michael has dropped his councillor candidacy in Ward 2. Adding to the musical chairs, he is now running for school trustee.
Candidate Olivia Chow, whose husband Jack Layton died of cancer in 2011, spoke briefly to the media and said she would refrain from commenting in a substantive way until Doug Ford has had a chance to talk to the media.
We should give them space, give them time to recover, and as to what decision he wants is really up to Rob Ford.
Fellow candidate John Tory said he agreed with Rob Ford’s difficult decision, and couldn’t imagine how hard it must have been. However he was unwilling to hold back on his feelings towards Doug Ford, calling him an “insult machine.”
Doug Ford, who is now a candidate for mayor, has repeatedly put down the members of city council who were his colleagues. He has publicly disparaged the premier of this province and members of her cabinet. He’s been insensitive to a number of our communities, including very recently the parents of children with autism. So I don’t think that Doug Ford offers Toronto more of the same, in fact he offers Toronto something that is worse.
It has previously been thought that Doug Ford had aspirations to run for provincial office and was unlikely to get involved in municipal politics, said Chris Irwin, professor of politics at Humber College.
“I thought (Doug) might be stepping back now to prepare for an entry into that world,” he said. “But it could be a very emotionally generated decision to step in for his brother.”
It is extremely difficult to say how these new developments will effect the election going forward, said Irwin.
“Will Rob’s vote follow Doug?” Irwin said is one of the biggest questions as the election pushes forward. “Can he build on what Rob has or is he starting further behind?”
Irwin also said that this might change the minds of those who wanted to vote for anyone but Ford. Voters who may have been looking at Tory over Chow simply because Chow was behind in the polls may now switch in the absence of Rob Ford, said Irwin.
Doug Ford addressed the media Friday evening outside his mother’s house, where he said his brother “passed on the torch” to him, and that he was not yet “in full campaign mode.”