Doug Ford, who has just six weeks to persuade Toronto residents to give him their votes in the October election, says his campaign will be "going full steam ahead" – but not right away.
Ever since joining the mayoral race as a last-minute contender last week, the normally combative councillor has kept a low profile, sitting out a handful of debates and declining to speak about his campaign. But for the first time since his bombshell announcement Friday, he spoke briefly with The Globe and Mail about his plans for his campaign launch, as well as his brother's sudden admission to hospital.
Mount Sinai Hospital is expected to provide an update at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the mayor, who has been in the hospital for a week awaiting the results of a biopsy on an abdominal tumour.
After that, Doug Ford said Tuesday, "that will be it, we're going to be moving forward" with the campaign. "You'll be hearing from me, I just want to get over this little hump with Rob," he said.
The announcement last week of Mayor Ford's hospital admission set in motion a chain of events that have dramatically altered the dynamics of the race: the end of Rob Ford's nine-month campaign for re-election, and Doug Ford's last-minute bid to "take the torch." The mayor – who, according to his chief of staff, Dan Jacobs, has still been returning constituents' calls from his hospital bed – will instead run for his old Ward 2 seat on council.
An Ipsos Reid poll released Tuesday showed that Rob Ford supporters appear to have shifted that support over to the elder brother, placing him in third over all with 28 per cent (in a statistical tie with Olivia Chow, at 29 per cent). The poll showed front-runner John Tory with a 14-point lead, with 43 per cent support.
"I'll be out there, I promise you," Mr. Ford said of the weeks ahead.
"We've got five weeks and we're going to be going hard. I just want to get over this little hurdle, and we're going full steam ahead right now."
Over the weekend, Mr. Ford told reporters that he expected to start campaigning on Monday. But instead, the outspoken councillor was nowhere to be found. He has yet to reveal any details of his platform, except to say last week that he and Rob "share the same values."
Though he does not have any events immediately scheduled, he appears to be in the process of putting together his campaign team, with Jeff Silverstein – who until Friday was Rob Ford's campaign spokesman – now serving as his own spokesman.
Meanwhile, media reports Tuesday showed that the Rob Ford campaign office in Scarborough has begun the process of removing the name "Rob" from its sign.
Both Mr. Silverstein and Mr. Ford declined to comment on a report in the Toronto Sun that the mayor has, in addition to the biopsy on his abdominal tumour, undergone a biopsy on his lungs.
"It's extremely tough right now," Mr. Ford later told CP24 on his way into Mount Sinai Hospital to visit his brother. "But our family's strong, Rob's strong. With all the support of the people – that's what keeps us going."
Mr. Silverstein declined to comment on the mayor's health, saying only that Mount Sinai's Dr. Zane Cohen, a colorectal surgeon and member of the mayor's clinical care team, will be delivering Wednesday's update. No members of the Ford family will be present at the press conference.
With a report from Oliver Moore.