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Doug Ford eyes provincial politics as prospect of Ontario election looms

Councillor Doug Ford speaks during a city council meeting in March at Toronto City Hall.

Michelle Siu/michelle siu The Globe and Mail

The prospect of a snap provincial election this summer has Toronto Councillor Doug Ford spoiling for a fight.

The provincial Liberals are threatening to go to the polls if changes to the budget bill, made earlier this week by the NDP and Conservatives, are not reversed.

While Mr. Ford says he thinks calling a summer election would be a mistake, if it does come to that, the mayor's brother says he is ready to take on liberal incumbent Shafiq Qaadri in his North Etobicoke riding.

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"If they call an election this summer, I'll be gone in 10 seconds," Mr. Ford said Friday morning in a phone interview, taking a break from manning the grill at a school event in his ward.

If elected at Queen's Park, Mr. Ford said he could work with his brother Mayor Rob Ford to advance the interests of Toronto.

"I think I can help city hall a lot more provincially," he said. "We'll have Rob taking care of the city, I'll be focusing on the province and we'll get the job done."

Under municipal rules, Mr. Ford said he would not be required to give up his seat on city council during an election campaign, but he said he would not draw a salary during that period.

Premier Dalton McGuinty, he said, should learn a lesson from former Liberal Premier David Peterson, who called an election early and went on to be defeated by then-NDP provincial leader Bob Rae.

"I think the tight-rope walker tonight has a better chance of getting across [Niagara Falls] than the premier does of winning a summer election," Mr. Ford said.

Mayor Ford shrugged off questions about his brother when questioned later at a lunchtime event.

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"If he wants to run, let him run," the mayor said. "He's always wanted to run provincially."

Toronto MPP Glen Murray, at the same event, said he'll be campaigning for the liberal incumbent if the Etobicoke councillor throws his hat in the ring.

Mr. Murray, the former mayor of Winnipeg, also questioned whether Mr. Ford should be criticizing how the province is run given the state of city politics.

"Most Torontonians would like to see a city government that can maintain a high level of political performance. People that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," he said. "We don't have a lot of lessons to learn from Doug Ford about political government or fiscal management."

Asked about the prospect of losing Mr. Ford to Queen's Park, Councillor Pam McConnell, a frequent critic of the Ford administration, encouraged him to move on.

"There are moments when he is quite sweet actually, but I won't miss his voting," she said.

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Toronto City Hall bureau chief



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