Doug Ford, who stepped into the Toronto mayoral race for his ailing brother, could be about to jump into another contest – this one for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.
Mr. Ford will make his intentions public at a news conference Thursday morning at the offices of the family business, Deco Labels and Tags. Senior Tory insiders said Wednesday they expected Mr. Ford to jump into the race, but none had direct knowledge of his plans.
"I have a quick little speech; it won't take long," Mr. Ford said late Wednesday when contacted by The Globe and Mail. He declined to discuss the contents of his message. "Maybe yes, maybe no," he said.
Mr. Ford, who is days way from ending his term as a Toronto city councillor, has long mused about moving to provincial politics. After coming second to John Tory in the race for Toronto mayor, he said he was considering a bid for the provincial leadership.
The possibility that Mr. Ford could join the race was not warmly welcomed by some in the party establishment. In the runup to the provincial election earlier this year, many Tories didn't want him to run for them, fearing his shoot-from-the-lip style – and the drug scandals engulfing his brother – would distract from the party's campaign messages.
Mr. Ford ultimately decided not to run for the PCs last spring after a meeting with then party leader Tim Hudak's staff. He said at the time he wanted to focus on helping his brother win re-election. In September, he replaced his brother in the mayoral contest after Rob Ford dropped out to seek treatment for cancer.
Mr. Ford has said his wife and his brother, the mayor, are urging him to run.
Rob Ford, at City Hall Friday before returning to hospital this week for a fourth round of chemotherapy to treat his rare form of cancer, said his older sibling should have "put down his deposit" already and joined the race. "All the time he dithers," he said.
During his short-lived campaign for mayor, Doug Ford has said he built a "well-oiled machine" that gives him a head start on others in the race, including PC MPP Christine Elliott, the wife of the late Jim Flaherty, a long-time Ford family friend.
The Ford family, he said, would rejuvenate the party and bring in supporters who have never voted for the PCs before, such as the many residents of Toronto Community Housing who voted for him as mayor. Beyond his base in Toronto, Mr. Ford said he has support in the surrounding 905 area.