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Dr. Rueben Devlin is well-known within the medical community as the chief executive officer of Humber River Hospital.Aaron Vincent Elkaim/The Canadian Press

On Wednesday night, as a visibly-shaken Doug Ford spoke to media about the discovery of a tumour in his brother Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's abdomen, a grey-haired figure stood by his side, looking on and stepping in to address reporter's medical questions.

That man was Dr. Rueben Devlin, who is well-known within the medical community as the chief executive officer of Humber River Hospital for over 15 years. But the appearance of Dr. Devlin at the mayor's press conference raised eyebrows within political circles as well, because of his history as a former Ontario PC Party president who in 2008 attempted to oust then-party leader – and current political rival to Mr. Ford – John Tory.

Gerard Power, a spokesman for the hospital, described Dr. Devlin in a statement as a physician with "a decades-long career of helping people through his expertise in orthopaedic surgery and hospital administration."

He added that Dr. Devlin's "political history has no bearing whatsoever on any patient's experience at our hospital."

In 2008, after a crushing defeat in the provincial election, Mr. Devlin was a leader in a group known as the Grassroots PC, who urged the party to conduct a leadership review of Mr. Tory.

In an opinion piece Dr. Devlin penned at the time for the Toronto Star called "Debunking the myths about Tory's leadership," he argued for the party to replace Mr. Tory for leader.

"He may be a nice guy, but Tory has proven time and time again that he is incapable of providing the leadership needed to win an election," he wrote.

Bart Maves, a former member of provincial parliament who worked alongside Dr. Devlin in the Grassroots PC campaign, described the former PC Party president as "a moderative conservative" and "a good president."

"He did a good job," he said. "He was a gentleman, and a capable and competent guy."

As a trained orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Devlin held a number of positions at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, including chief of surgery, before moving to Humber River Hospital, where he has been CEO since 1999.