There are MPs and many other politicians across Canada who have a worse drinking problem than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, his brother says.
Councillor Doug Ford told Talk Radio 640 on Friday morning that his younger brother should be able to make a fresh start after taking two or three weeks of vacation and getting “a little bit of counselling.”
Mr. Ford took umbrage at fellow councillors who have called on the mayor to step away. He singled out former ally Denzil Minnan-Wong, who wants the provincial government to step in if Rob Ford does not leave.
“I think it’s disgusting the way these councillors are playing politics, to the point of playing tap dance on his [the mayor’s] grave,” Doug Ford said.
He questioned Mr. Minnan-Wong’s motives, saying the councillor had told the Ford brothers a few months ago that he planned to run for a mayor but to withdraw after raising his public profile.
Mr. Minnan-Wong, who stopped by the mayor’s office on Friday morning for city business before the mayor arrived, said Councillor Ford’s comments were untrue.
“I still have a good relationship with the mayor’s office. I think I have a respectful relationship with the mayor,” he told reporters on his way out of Mayor Ford’s office.
“Doug Ford’s comments were not true. Making false comments is not a productive way to move forward and I’m disappointed.”
Councillor Ford said his brother still has a future as mayor.
“If Rob goes away on a little vacation, a week or two weeks, comes back, Rob loses 50, 60 pounds, stays on the straight and narrow, because he's a good, good man...it'd be tough to beat Rob Ford,” he said on Talk Radio 640.
“Just a couple of weeks? Do you think a couple of months might be better?” the host, John Oakley, asked.
Mr. Ford said a few weeks of reflection and “a little bit of counselling” would be a good start.
“I don’t think Rob is in denial. … Does he go out and get hammered every single night? No,” he said.
Other politicians, provincial and federal ones, have worse problems and drink every night, Mr. Ford said.
“They aren’t at home, because they’re from B.C. or from Quebec or wherever, it gets pretty lonely, and they’re out drinking every night. Don’t kid yourself, there’s a lot of politicians in this country, and I think you know this Johnnie, that have a lot worse drinking issue than Rob Ford.”
He said his brother has been unfairly portrayed. “Rob has to show proper leadership, but right now it’s just a feeding frenzy.”
He conceded that past incidents, such as the 1999 arrest in Florida on charges of drunk driving and marijuana possession or the 2006 Maple Leafs hockey game at which he berated a couple, suggested a “pattern.”
But he staunchly reiterated his support for his brother. “If you want to compare apples to apples, I’ll take Rob the way he is right now, taking care of the purse strings of city hall, of our taxpayers’ money, over 35 of those councillors combined,” he said.
He also alluded to criticism that he has abetted his brother’s problems. “Rob does not come in drunk, he does not come in hammered, and he is not a crack addict, and I am not a naive brother.”
Mr. Ford’s insistence that a short break and weight loss would address the mayor’s problem mirrored the remarks made in a TV appearance by his mother, Diane, and his sister, Kathy.
But Mr. Ford said he was taken by surprise by the interview they gave to CP24’s Stephen LeDrew. “I feel he took advantage of my mother.”
Despite the uproar created on Thursday by the release of a video showing his brother in a profane tirade, Mr. Ford said he was more moved by the words of support from federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, a family friend. “Chokes me up when I hear Jim talk. It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “He’s the most caring man I’ve ever met in my life.”
With a report from Kaleigh Rogers.