Toronto Mayor Rob Ford left rehab Monday morning and will return to city hall for a highly anticipated address to the public at 3:30 p.m.
After month of scandal — including drug use, offensive comments caught on tape and being stripped of most of his powers — Ford checked into rehab on April 30 to deal with what he called “issues with alcohol.” He underwent treatment at the GreeneStone facility in Muskoka.
His brother and campaign manager, Doug Ford, has said the mayor will make a statement upon his return, but won’t field any questions.
For Ford, it will be a return to the intense public glare from which he has largely avoided for the past two months.
Ford plans to resume his mayoral duties, according to a letter he sent to the city clerk’s office earlier this month.
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His role has been largely symbolic since city council stripped him of most of his power last fall after his admissions of alcohol and drug use and some stunning verbal gaffes.
With less than four months left in his term, Ford will likely devote much of his time to getting re-elected in this fall’s mayoral race.
The embattled mayor’s rehab stint likely won’t have entirely pressed the reset button on the controversies he left in his wake.
In addition to an ongoing police investigation and lingering questions about the circumstances of his admitted drug use, Ford will also return to a new ethics complaint. The group Democracy Watch filed a request Friday with the city’s integrity commissioner, asking her to investigate media reports that both Ford brothers allegedly lobbied on behalf of two companies with ties to their family’s label business.
Just days after he left for rehab, Ford himself gave an interview to the Toronto Sun in which he pronounced it “amazing” and said he was making calls to constituents — something addiction experts have said would be highly unusual in a treatment program.
Ford’s hasty exit sparked widespread speculation about where he was enrolled in rehab, then when Ford himself turned up in the cottage country town, a nearby facility confirmed he was being treated there. But his ventures into town — as documented by social media users who posed for photos with Ford — prompted questions about whether he truly was a rehab in-patient.
Mayoral candidates on Ford’s return
Meanwhile, fellow mayoral candidate Karen Stintz, who was the target of one of Ford’s rants, said she won’t be holding a news conference after Ford’s address but issued a statement instead.
Before he left for rehab, the Toronto Sun published a story with audio about Ford making lewd comments about his wife and Stintz, and how he would like to “jam her.”
In her statement, Stintz said “Toronto is a world-class city, and our city is not defined by one person.”
“Rob Ford is not Toronto and the upcoming election is not a referendum on Rob Ford. Here’s what the election is about: the kind of Toronto we want to live in and the kind of Toronto we want to build for our children,” she said in the statement.
Other mayoral candidates have come out swinging against him in advance of his return to city hall.
On Monday, Olivia Chow released a new campaign video talking about what she calls Ford’s “failed record” as mayor.
“We deserve the truth, not Rob Ford’s billion dollar lie,” the ad stated.
Watch the ad below:
Earlier, John Tory released an open letter, writing that although he wishes Ford well in his recovery, the mayor should step down.
“Mr. Ford has repeatedly broken faith with the citizens of Toronto. Not only with his repeated behavioural lapses, but his consorting with underworld figures, and, since his exit, new and serious allegations involving using his public office to benefit his family business, means that he cannot continue to sit as Mayor,” Tory said.
“He may choose to run again. But for the good of the city he should step down as Mayor without delay.”
Ford’s approval rating on the rebound
Meanwhile, according to a Forum Research poll conducted on June 23, Ford’s approval rating has risen from 28 per cent — the lowest since he was elected mayor in 2010 — to 32 per cent.
Tory had an approval rating of 61 per cent, followed by Chow at 57 per cent, David Soknacki at 47 per cent and Karen Stintz at 41 per cent.
However, the poll reveals that if an election were held today, Chow would get 34 per cent of popular support, followed by Ford with 27 per cent, Tory at 24 per cent, with Soknacki and Stintz at six per cent and three per cent, respectively.