"Now it's time to get out there and meet the people." With those words to cheering supporters at Ford headquarters, Doug Ford kicked off his campaign to succeed his ailing brother Rob as mayor of Toronto.
Mr. Ford has been uncharacteristically low key since jumping into the race on Sept. 12, saying he wanted to take a pause to focus on Rob, who is receiving chemotherapy for a cancerous tumour in his abdomen.
But on Saturday, the older Ford started his campaign in earnest with a round of canvassing in the suburban northwest quadrant of Toronto that is the Fords' home turf.
At Ford HQ, where Rob Ford launched a similar canvassing drive just a couple of weeks ago, volunteers sent Doug Ford off with chants of "Ford more years" and "Doug, Doug, Doug."
"I love each and every one of you," he said, before leaving in a black SUV for the canvassing site a few blocks away.
With a couple of dozen reporters, photographers and cameramen dogging his steps, he went door to door asking voters to join his campaign, accept a lawn sign and vote for him on Oct. 27.
As might be expected in this Ford Nation stronghold, where the Fords grew up and Rob was a city councillor for 10 years before becoming mayor in 2010, he was met with a warm reception.
Jawharah Sellam, who pulled her minivan to the curb to greet Mr. Ford, said she supported Rob Ford – "He's very nice, he's very gentle" – and would vote for his brother, too. "I like them both."
Ken Boot, wearing a baggy T-shirt and a santa hat despite the hot late summer weather, said Rob Ford won his loyalty by coming to investigate when he complained about some disruptive neighbours. "I'm a Ford supporter for a long time."
As Doug Ford walked along the sidewalk, some drivers honked and waved as they passed. A trio of teenaged girls stopped to take his picture, then walked away in fits of giggles.
Jacob D'Souza, who greeted Mr. Ford at the doorstep of his bungalow on Kipling Avenue, said he, too, was a Rob Ford loyalist. "I've always liked him," he said. "I like whatever changes he has brought -- don't ask me what."
Rob Ford is running for his old council seat, currently held by Doug.
But Rob Ford's rival for the seat, candidate Andray Domise, who was also canvassing in the area, said that Doug had neglected the area. "'I'm glad they finally remember that we exist," he said. "Doug Ford was not here. I don't see how he could be there for the rest of Toronto."
When reporters stopped Mr. Ford to ask about his campaign plan, he told them to "watch me over the next 40 days. We're going to send a message, a vision of prosperity that this city has seen for the last four years."
He said he would be talking to voters about keeping their taxes low.
"We look forward to talking to the people. That's what it's all about, is the people. They make the decisions."
Mr. Ford is scheduled to take part in his first mayoral debate on Tuesday.