Toronto's race for mayor will come down to two candidates – the incumbent Rob Ford and challenger Olivia Chow – predicts Councillor Doug Ford, who is managing the campaign for his brother.
The Etobicoke councillor played down the impact his brother's personal behaviour will have on the race – including videos such as the latest that shows an agitated mayor outside city hall Saturday evening, wearing green plastic beads for St. Patrick's Day and cursing as he hails a cab. The footage made it to U.S. late-night television on Monday and sent off a new round of questions about the mayor's pledge to quit drinking – questions Rob Ford continued to dodge Tuesday.
Doug Ford said he is not discounting any of the mayor's four main rivals that include Ms. Chow as well as former provincial PC Party leader John Tory, Councillor Karen Stintz and former councillor David Soknacki. But when push comes to shove, he thinks the choice will be between the former NDP MP and the city's current mayor.
"They are going to have a choice between Olivia Chow and Rob Ford," Doug Ford said Tuesday. "Even the people who don't like Rob Ford are going to plug their nose at the end of the day and look at Olivia Chow and look at Rob Ford and say, 'Hey, this guy is going to keep my taxes low.'"
The five main candidates meet for the first time in a television debate next Wednesday evening and Doug Ford said his brother will run on his accomplishments in office and argue that none of the other candidates will keep taxes low.
The councillor said he is not underestimating any of the candidates, but predicts a gap will open up between Ms. Chow, Mr. Ford and Mr. Tory and the rest of the field that will lead to strategic voting. "On election day people are going to say, "Okay, I am wasting my vote with Tory, I got to pick Chow or Ford," he said.
Doug Ford said such episodes as the one captured on video Saturday night are not ideal, but argued they do not take away from the mayor's ability to watch the public purse.
"I would rather him not have the videos, but I think at the end of the day people are going to look at Rob and look at whoever is running against him and [ask] who is going to watch my tax dollars, who is going to keep the city booming, bring the companies in here, cut the red tape, keep them accountable?" he said.
"You may despise Rob Ford, but I know deep in your heart if you had Olivia Chow taking [care of] your bank account or Rob Ford, you wouldn't care if Rob had 10 beers because he would watch every single penny."
Doug Ford said he had not spoken to is brother about the latest video and did not know who he was with or whether he went home in the taxi.
He said the driver contacted him to say the mayor did not "seem drunk" and was returning calls in the cab.
Asked for his reaction when he first watched the new footage of his brother, Doug Ford replied, "... he didn't look as bad as I thought."
There is no reason the mayor can't be out on a Saturday night, he later added. "He's not a little kid. He doesn't have a curfew at 10:30. He's out there and if he wants to meet the folks at that time, so be it," he said.