With just over a week left as Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford returned to his City Hall office on Friday to sign souvenir bobblehead dolls, a fundraising drive for the hospitals that have helped him since he was diagnosed with cancer.
It was a subdued ending to a term in office that has been anything but that. And as this chapter ends for Ford Nation, the mayor's brother, Doug Ford, is mulling a bid for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership, saying he will announce his decision late next week.
Dressed in jeans, cowboy boots and a black shirt rather than his usual blue suit, his hair lost to chemotherapy, a patch of whiskers on his chin, Rob Ford arrived at City Hall around noon and soon after came out to speak with reporters before taking a seat in his reception area to autograph figures of his likeness in four different outfits. By the time he got to City Hall after a nursing visit, the line that had formed early in the morning was almost gone. Seven people waited behind the crowd-control ropes outside his office.
Did he have any regrets, asked the reporters that crowded around his office door. After all the bad behaviour, which included Mr. Ford's denial, then later admission that he smoked crack cocaine while in office and the stripping of most of his authority by council, the mayor expressed none.
"I did what I said I was going to do – worked very hard, returned every phone call," Mr. Ford said in a raspy voice, his brother at his side.
"People are going to remember that I saved money. That I did what I said I was going to do and you look at the results," he said.
Mr. Ford is scheduled to start a fourth round of chemotherapy on Monday, and said he has two more to go to treat the rare form of cancer that forced him to abandon his mayoral re-election bid. Net proceeds from the sale of the "Robbie Bobbies," which cost $30, will go to Toronto's Humber River Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital.
Mr. Ford, who was elected as a councillor in his former Etobicoke ward last month, said even with his illness he is returning phone calls and helping his constituents, but said it has been tough.
"I haven't got the fire in my belly yet. I have to get that back. I really want to get that back," he said. Later adding: "I don't like that chemo at all. It makes me sick. It doesn't feel good. You don't want to do this. It's the worst."
As for his brother's chances in provincial politics, Mr. Ford said his older sibling should have "put down his deposit" already and joined the race. "All the time he dithers," he said.
Doug Ford said his wife and the mayor are pushing the most for him to try for the party leadership. When the family met on Thursday night at an Etobicoke restaurant to mark Doug's 50th birthday, the mayor handed him a campaign donation, the older brother said.
"You've got to start rejuvenating the party. You've got to start bringing the hard-working, blue-collar people into the party," Doug Ford said. "We have to start opening up our tent to everyone and put a big 'P' on progressive."
The mayor said it will be like old times when he returns to his council seat next month. He has spoken twice on the phone to mayor-elect John Tory and said it will be up to Mr. Tory to decide if he wants to "put him in opposition," saying they have not discussed a role for him in the new term.
"I was in opposition, and that's up to John if he wants to put me in opposition," he said. "I'll do a good job at that. That's up to him. I'll be watching every dime that goes out of this place and comes in."
Will he be leaving a bobblehead in the mayor's office for Mr. Tory? "If he wants to buy one, sure," Mr. Ford said.
By the time Mr. Ford took his seat to sign bobbleheads, the line outside his door had started to grow.