Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admits 'rocky moments' as he launches re-election bid against Olivia Chow
Politician, who admits smoking crack cocaine 'in a drunken stupor', invokes spirit of second chances as he fights for another four years, but faces tough challenge from Hong Kong-born rival Olivia Chow
Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has acknowledged “rocky moments over the past year”, but has vowed to fight harder than ever to win re-election at a rally he dubbed the official launch of his campaign.
However, Ford, 44, who was the first to register as a candidate in January, faces a tough challenge against Hong Kong-born Olivia Chow, a left-leaning politician popular in liberal central Toronto, and from John Tory, a one-time Ontario provincial Progressive Conservative leader.
Ford invoked the spirit of second chances during a speech on Thursday night in front of about 2,000 supporters at the Toronto Congress Centre – the same venue where he celebrated his election victory back in 2010.
“There’s been some rocky moments over the past year.I have experienced how none of us can go through life without making mistakes. When they occur, we learn a lot about ourselves. Humility, the kindness of people and the spirit of second chances.”
“There’s been some rocky moments over the past year,” Ford said. “I have experienced how none of us can go through life without making mistakes.
“And when they occur, we learn a lot about ourselves. Humility, the kindness of people and the spirit of second chances.”
He added: “I’m running on my record and my record is second to none. I’m the most open hard-working mayor this city has ever had. I continue to pledge honesty and transparency.”
Ford is seeking re-election on October 27 after his four-year-term ends, despite acknowledging last year that he had smoked crack cocaine “in a drunken stupor”.
He told the crowd, amid chants of “Four more years” and “Rob is Number 1”: “No matter what challenges lay ahead, no matter what mud is thrown at me, my message couldn’t be clearer – I won’t back down.”
Volunteers gave out one free drink to every person at the centre. There were also queues for “Rob Ford” bobble-head dolls that were being sold to raise money for the campaign.
The mayor, who has often claimed he has saved taxpayers C$1 billion (about HK$7 billion), made his way through the crowd along a red carpet to the stage, led by bagpipers and volunteers carrying campaign signs.
The city council removed most of Ford’s powers after he admitted to having smoked crack cocaine.
Aisha Schuster, a supporter, said he was not concerned about Ford’s controversial personal life.
“You know we all have personal stuff. There’s no perfect person and I fully support him,” Schuster said.
George Zambrano also said he was not concerned about Ford’s personal life.
“He’s saving us money,” Zambrano said. When asked about the drug admissions, Zambrano added: “Well you know what, that’s his off time. He can do whatever he wants when he’s not working.”
Ford is popular among a core of voters in his home suburb of Etobicoke. His promises to slash spending, cut taxes and end what he called “the war on the car” gained him a loyal following in the suburbs that came to be known as “Ford Nation”.