Toronto city councillor Doug Ford is going to have to “play by the rules” if he wants to make the jump to provincial politics, Progressive Conservative MPP Doug Holyday said.
Mr. Ford, the brother of scandal-plagued Mayor Rob Ford, has mused repeatedly over the past year at running for the legislature.
But some Tories fear his outspoken nature – including public attacks on Toronto police Chief Bill Blair – and his association with the mayor would distract from the party’s message if he runs.
Mr. Holyday, who served as deputy mayor before making the jump to Queen’s Park in a by-election last summer, said Mr. Ford “could be a good MPP” but might need some guidance.
“If he does come here, I’ll certainly be speaking with him on how I think things work here and what I think he needs to do to help us,” Mr. Holyday said. “It’s different here and he’s got to understand the difference. If he really wants to come here, he’s going to have to play by the rules.”
The Mayor has admitted to smoking crack cocaine and being “hammered” in public. He has also faced accusations he used heroin, associated with gang members and partied with a prostitute, which he denies.
Doug Ford courted controversy this fall when he accused Chief Blair of having a political agenda for confirming the existence of a video that purports to show the Mayor smoking crack.
A Globe and Mail investigation this spring, meanwhile, reported that Mr. Ford was a high-volume hashish dealer in the 1980s. Mr. Ford denies this.
Since that time, top Tories have been wary of publicly endorsing him, and PC Leader Tim Hudak has declined to answer most questions about his possible candidacy.
Mr. Holyday said that, with some discipline, Mr. Ford could succeed.
“He could be a good MPP, he’s got a good head on his shoulders, he does know how to save a dollar and how to operate efficiently and certainly that’s needed in this place,” he said. “Doug has a good head on his shoulders and he can be put forward in the right direction.”
First and foremost, he’d have to learn that Queen’s Park is more disciplined than oft-chaotic city hall, he said.
“We couldn’t have this conversation at city hall this way – they’d be yelling and screaming and carrying on, and people trying to grab you and everything,” he said.
An Ontario election is widely expected this year. Mr. Holyday predicted that it will happen so soon, the province will not even have the chance to hold two by-elections that must be called this spring.
“I don’t think we’re going to get to those by-elections…[the Liberals] are getting set for an election. All the things they’re doing now indicate there’s an election coming,” he said. “I’d even take a wager on that.”