Ontario's Progressive Conservatives are distancing themselves from Doug Ford, saying the Toronto city councillor is "not our candidate" as he continues to be embroiled in a drug scandal.
Last month, the Tories reacted enthusiastically when Mr. Ford, the older brother of Mayor Rob Ford, announced he would run for the party in the next provincial election. PC Leader Tim Hudak repeatedly praised the brothers Ford for getting expenses under control at Toronto City Hall.
But now, with Doug Ford facing allegations he was a high-volume hashish dealer in the 1980s and his brother accused of smoking crack cocaine in a home-made video, the party is backing away from its laudatory rhetoric.
"I don't even know the guy. Personally, I've never even met him," said Tory House Leader Jim Wilson, when asked Thursday whether he thought Mr. Ford was a good candidate.
Asked if the party would stand behind Mr. Ford, Mr. Wilson said the decision would be up to the local riding association.
"He's not our candidate. The process will have to be followed," he said. "We're the only political party, as you know, that doesn't parachute candidates one way or the other or handpick them from the leader's office. So regardless of who you are, you'll have to go through the local democratic process."
His words echoed those of other Tories in recent days. They have steered clear of their previous laudatory rhetoric on Mr. Ford, emphasizing instead that, with no election on the horizon, it is not clear whether he will ever run for them.
Mr. Hudak had been cultivating an image very different from the populist, anti-intellectual Fords, portraying himself as a thoughtful, policy-savvy politician. And in the days since the drug scandal broke, PC insiders have tried to distance him from the Fords, insisting that, given Mr. Hudak's different image, the Fords' troubles would not rub off on him.
The Globe and Mail reported last Saturday that Doug Ford and Dave Price, who is now a staffer in the Mayor's office, sold hash in Etobicoke together 30 years ago.
Previously, Gawker and the Toronto Star wrote that they had seen video of Rob Ford appearing to smoke crack.
The Ford brothers have said all of the allegations are not true.