TORONTO (AP) — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford began treatment for substance abuse, his brother said Friday, two days after a second video emerged that appears to show the mayor puffing from a crack pipe.
Doug Ford told The Associated Press he has been in touch with his brother, but declined to say where he was being treated, or how long he would stay there.
“He’s in a good place. Everything is fine. He’s going to get over this little challenge and get back to business,” Doug Ford said.
Ford announced Wednesday that he would take leave for an unspecified amount of time from both his mayoral post and his re-election campaign, but he did not abandon his bid for a second term as mayor of Canada’s second largest city.
Political observers say the populist mayor, who was elected four years ago on a wave of support from Toronto’s conservative suburbs, is done for and has no chance of winning October’s election. But in the conservative, ethnically diverse suburbs that elected him and where his promises to slash spending, cut taxes and end what Ford has called “the war on the car” are treasured, some die-hard loyalists are sticking by him.
“He’s been involved with the people, he wants to save people money,” said Kalyan Gohain, 43, a sales executive who lives in Ford’s suburb of Etobicoke. “For those people who aren’t financially well off, he knocked on their doors to see where their problems were. That’s what the mayor should do, to see and hear from the people what they want.”
Ramandeep Singh, 36, said he voted for Ford in the last election and will do so again.
“He’s done a good job. If you look at how this city is running and working,” Singh said.
But the experts, for the most part, agree: Rob Ford’s days in politics are almost certainly over, in the near future at least, and it is only the constant media attention that has created a false impression that the mayor’s political support remains strong.
“Because he’s such a fascinating individual, he’s a perfect storm for the media, and for people who are taken with celebrities,” said Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto. “But the people who want selfies with him are looking for entertainment. Those are not people who are going to go door to door for him.”
Grace Skogstad, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto’s campus in Scarborough, one of the amalgamated suburbs where Ford has been most popular, said the mayor likely blew his chances for redemption by waiting too long to seek help.
“He still has some fans,” Skogstad said. “Had he sought the kind of help he needed earlier, he could have had a fighting chance for re-election.”
Sairah Nazir, 34, a mother of two who lives in Etobicoke, said she will not be voting for Ford again.
“He does do stuff for the community, that’s why I like him but at the same time he needs to show he’s improving his image,” she said. “He may take a decision that’s not in the best interests of our community when he’s not in his right mind.”
He boarded a plane for Chicago on Thursday and headed for a treatment program that will last at least 30 days, his lawyer Dennis Morris told The Associated Press.
Morris declined to say if Chicago was his final destination. Ford’s family business, Deco Labels and Tags, has a plant in the Chicago area and Rob’s brother Doug has a second home there.
Ford has for months been the subject of a drug-related police investigation, but he has not been charged with any crime. The Toronto City Council stripped him of most of his powers last year.
In a statement Wednesday, he acknowledged having a problem with alcohol and said he would seek help, but he did not address the reported video or make any reference to crack cocaine.
The Globe and Mail newspaper said it has viewed a second video of Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine in his sister’s basement. The national newspaper said two Globe reporters viewed the video from a self-professed drug dealer showing Ford taking a drag from a pipe early Saturday morning.
The video is part “of a package of three videos the dealer said was surreptitiously filmed around 1:15 a.m., and which he says he is now selling for ‘at least six figures,'” the paper reported. The Globe published still photos from the video and said it paid $10,000 to the drug dealer.
Toronto police said they were looking into the new video, and local politicians, including some of Ford’s opponents in the Oct. 27 race for mayor, renewed calls for his resignation.
News reports of an earlier video of Ford apparently smoking crack first surfaced last May. The mayor denied the existence of that video for months but after police said they had obtained it, Ford acknowledged that he smoked crack in a “drunken stupor.” He rebuffed intense pressure to resign and launched his re-election bid earlier this year. The first video has never been released to the public.
Ford has careened from one scandal to another, including public drunkenness and threatening “murder” in a videotaped rant.
(Copyright 2014, The Associated Press, All rights reserved.)