This article has been updated since first published reflect Rob Ford taking a leave of absence from his campaign.
It’s happening again.
A fresh round of shocking evidence against Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has pushed the man to take a leave of absence from his campaign and seek treatment for a “problem with alcohol.”
“I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help,” Ford told the Globe and Mail.
The double whammy of allegations include audio of the Mayor in a bar rant as well as a brand spanking new video recorded by a self-professed drug dealer apparently showing Ford smoking crack-cocaine in his sister’s basement.
The bar rant happened on Monday night and the basement-themed crack hoedown occurred over the weekend, according to two Toronto papers who published the stories.
In a tearful press conference addressing Ford’s leave of absence, brother and campaign manager Doug Ford said “I love my brother and I will continue to stand by my brother and his family.”
Ford said he hopes voters will look beyond the sound bites and focus on policy issues. It is still not known how long he will seek help before returning to the campaign.
“I thought about stepping away completely from the mayoral campaign but so many people are telling me not to,” Ford told the Toronto Sun. “They are saying, ‘Go away for 30 days and get some help and then come back.’ ”
It’s impossible to avoid the fact, however, that Ford’s ongoing misbehavior has affected his job performance. The public controversies gave the Toronto City Council the ammunition it needed to strip Ford of most of his authority. In November, his admission to purchasing illegal drugs within the last two years was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The recent allegations wholly contradict Mayor Ford’s pitch to the people that he’s moved on from his past.
Earlier this month, Ford’s message to supporters at his reelection launch party included an admission to “rocky moments over the past year,” assuring them that “none of us can go through life without making mistakes.” Appealing to their hearts, he added that “when they occur, we learn a lot about ourselves. Humility, the kindness of people and the spirit of second chances.”
According to a recent poll conducted by Forum Research, the race remains tight among likely voters, with top contenders Olivia Chow and John Tory scoring 34 percent and 24 percent of the vote respectively. Twenty-seven percent of voters would vote for Ford.
The city’s chief magistrate isn’t as popular as he used to be; in 2010, Ford ran as an independent and won in a landslide.
The Fords are a wealthy family. Their Father, Doug Ford Sr., started Deco Labels & Tags, a very successful label making business that made the family millions and helped propel them to political prominence over the two decades.
Despite his affluence, Mayor Ford has positioned himself as a populist; a winning message among Toronto’s working class, who view Ford as not just a man of the people who has their best interests in mind, but an outsider who will forever combat the Toronto establishment.
“I do a lot of Toronto community housing buildings and take care of a lot of vulnerable people that have been ignored for years,” Ford said in an interview with Fusion. “I just want to improve the quality of life and I know I’ve done that for a lot of people in the city. And I will continue doing that, God willing, for the next 14 years.”
Toronto has 6 municipalities that were aggregated in 1998 to form a giant metropolis. Ford isn’t very popular among the city’s core residents, but he does well in the outskirts, and his strongest support comes from conservatives, baby boomers, the upper-middle class and the less wealthy.
Ford claims he’s running on his record, and as an incumbent, Toronto’s stable economy bolsters his campaign. The Toronto region accounts for more than 20 percent of the country’s economy, and remains one of the most livable places in the world.
While the rest of the world laughs at the cornucopia of Rob Ford videos on the internet, many Toronto voters take Ford’s conduct seriously when it comes to deciding their vote.
“He’s hilarious he’s funny a guy you’d love to have some drinks with and spend a night with but you don’t want him to run your city,” said Matt McKibbon, general manager at Lou Dawg’s BBQ.
But the mayor’s die hard supporters, known as “Ford Nation,” are fighting hard for a victory on Election Day on October 27th.
Doug Ford, campaign manager and brother to the embattled mayor is hopeful the city will give him a second chance.
“He’s the most honest guy when it comes to taxpayers money,” Doug told Fusion. “Someone comes up to him who lives in Toronto community housing, better known as the projects in the U.S. He goes in and helps them. It may not seem like a lot to people but if you have cockroaches running through your apartment and rodents and bedbugs, and the mayor shows up and he cleans it up? It’s like Santa Claus coming at Christmas.”
There is a sizeable list of mayors who have been caught in scandals that have forced them from office, including Washington, D.C.’s Marion Barry, Detroit’s Kwame Kilpatrick and San Diego’s Bob Filner. Even Canada isn’t immune, with the resignation of Montreal’s Michael Applebaum last year amid a corruption scandal.
So far, none of Ford’s antics have forced him from office, and his enemies in the City Council lack the power to boot him.
But this latest wave of embarrassing revelations against the world’s most infamous mayor may prove insurmountable for a man who appears to have hit rock bottom.