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That wasn’t Rob Ford at Tim Hortons, ‘that was me,’ brother says

Councillor Doug Ford says he was the one seen at a Tim Hortons on Tuesday, not his brother.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Rob Ford has gone outside Toronto to get help for his addictions, says his brother and campaign manager, providing the latest hint about the mayor's location since he was seen leaving his house one week ago, a large suitcase in tow.

"He is nowhere close to the GTA," Councillor Doug Ford told reporters Wednesday, responding to reports of a possible sighting of the mayor at a Toronto coffee shop.

The exact whereabouts of the leader of Canada's largest city remains a mystery. Last week, Rob Ford announced that he was taking an unspecified length of time off to "seek immediate help" for his "problem with alcohol."

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Since then, his brother and lawyer have been tight-lipped about where he is getting help, leading some councillors to speculate about the sincerity of the mayor's claim.

Those questions intensified after reports of a possible sighting of the mayor Tuesday morning at a west-end Tim Hortons – reports his brother dismissed Wednesday as a case of mistaken identity.

"That was me," said Doug Ford, who shares a family resemblance with the mayor. "That was me at the Junction." That was me that pulled over. I was taking pictures and handing out T-shirts. That was me on my way down here."

The possible sighting was first reported by a young woman on Twitter. It was picked up by some media outlets, and by lunchtime Wednesday, the same teenager was recounting on live television how she watched a man she believed to be Rob Ford go into the restaurant in a suit and come out in grey track pants and top.

Councillor Ford said she is mistaken.

The mayor's decision last week to take a leave came after The Globe and Mail reported the existence of a video that appears to show him smoking crack cocaine last month in his sister's basement. An audio tape was released on the same day by The Toronto Sun that captured the mayor in what appeared to be a drunken rant that included lewd comments about his opponent in the mayor's race, Councillor Karen Stintz.

The mayor left his home last Thursday morning and took a private jet to Chicago. Earlier this week, The Globe reported that he did not officially cross the border, voluntarily withdrawing his application to enter the United States and travelling to an undisclosed destination.

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Since then, his brother has refused to say where the mayor is, only that he is in rehab. On Tuesday, Doug Ford passed his phone to other councillors at City Hall so that they could chat with the mayor. Rob Ford also spoke with a columnist for The Sun, telling him that rehab reminded him of football camp.

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