Amid duelling polls showing wildly different prospects for a Doug Ford mayoralty run, rival Olivia Chow said it was time to end the Ford era and "send him packing."
Ms. Chow made her first comments on a Doug Ford candidacy Saturday, saying she had not wanted to "pile on" the day before, when Rob Ford abruptly withdrew from the race for mayor and his brother stepped forward.
On Saturday, Ms. Chow lambasted Doug Ford as someone who had voted repeatedly to cut key services and tried to lump him and John Tory, the candidate leading the polls, together as two of a kind.
"I welcome Doug Ford to the race and we can finally debate policy and not about personality, because the last few months has always been Rob Ford the person," she told a crowd of supporters at the campaign office of her step-son, Councillor Mike Layton.
"Mr. Doug Ford wants to leave city hall, he can't wait to get out of there. Well, give him wish, send him packing. All the Ford family, get them out of there."
After a tumultuous mayoralty, Rob Ford was facing an uphill battle for re-election when a tumour was found in his abdomen this week, forcing him out of the race. With minutes to spare Friday, his older brother put his name forward, with Rob choosing instead to run for his former council seat, which Doug has held for the last four years.
Doug Ford, whose support was put at 16 per cent and 34 per cent in a pair of snap polls, spent part of Saturday visiting his ailing brother at a downtown hospital.
"He`s just resting up there, " he told reporters outside, in remarks carried on television. "He`s doing all right. He`s just in a real tough battle right now. "
Mr. Ford professed not to be concerned about his standing in the polls. "I`m not worried about that, I just want to take care of Rob right now, " he said. "We`ll kick this off Monday. "
A poll Friday of 1,228 people by Forum Research for the Toronto Star had Mr. Tory at 41 per cent, Mr. Ford at 34 per cent and Ms. Chow at 19 per cent. A poll the same day of 1,054 people by Mainstreet Technologies put Mr. Tory at 45 per cent, Ms. Chow at 27 per cent and Mr. Ford at 16 per cent. The latter poll also had Rob Ford on track to win his old council seat easily, with a 30-point gap over the nearest challenger.
Both polls were conducted by interactive voice response and at least part of each was done around the time Mr. Ford made an emotional speech to launch his campaign. Each had a margin of error of around 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Asked about the Forum poll, Ms. Chow said her poor numbers may have been because she had declined to attack Doug Ford on Friday. On Saturday she again demurred when asked about his history of selling hash, as detailed in a Globe and Mail investigation, and the brothers alleged use of their position at city hall to help the Ford family firm.
"The drug dealing, conflict of interest – all of those things are important and all the public know about it," she said. "But I think it's important looking to the future ... let us focus on what we can do in the future together."