By TOM GODFREY
The race for the Mayor’s office is beginning in earnest now that Rob Ford has stepped out of the way to seek treatment for alcohol and substance abuse.
Many across the City are relieved and wish the Mayor well in the healing process.
It’s not only the Mayor’s boozing and crack smoking that landed him in rehab, his lewd comments about rival Karen Stintz left him with no other choice.
Ford was so wasted at an Etobicoke bar he couldn’t even remember making the insulting remarks.
It is sad to watch him fall.
Ford is basically a good man with a good heart. He is popular and served as Ward 2 Councillor for 10 years before being elected Mayor by a majority in 2010.
Sure, Ford has saved taxpayers money. But, now the City has to rebuild its brand that the Mayor helped to tarnish.
That aside, Ford has his wife and two young children to think about. He was hit hard by the passing of former Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who was a good family friend.
His campaign is on hold despite a huge sum of money spent to assemble a political team, fete Ford Nation supporters, book office space, obtain signs and so on.
The campaign office, on Lawrence Ave. East, that was to open last week, is idle with a handful of volunteers holding the fort. Some even held a rally to show their support for the ailing Mayor.
Ford rivals in the Mayoral race are jumping for joy with him out of the way. The decision has left members of Ford Nation lost and confused. Many of them, when polled, did not know who their second candidate would be.
Within minutes of Ford been driven off to rehab, the campaign rhetoric at City Hall started picking up with calls for the Mayor to resign.
John Tory was first off the mark demanding that Ford step down to heal himself.
“I am deeply disappointed by these revelations of Mayor Ford’s behaviour,” Tory said on his website. “For the good of the city, I call on Mayor Ford to resign.”
The former Rogers executive is hoping to gain some of Ford’s supporters.
Stintz was stunned by the rude and offensive language used by Ford to describe her. She says, however, that she is putting that behind her as she tackles traffic gridlock and keeping taxes in line while maintaining City services.
And as fast as you can say subway, Olivia Chow declared Ford “a sick man” as she pushed for above-ground transit for Scarborough.
“Mayor Ford can pack up his tent and circus and leave town,” Chow said. “He has done enough damage to the City.”
Chow said Ford has turned Toronto into a joke-fest worldwide.
“I am embarrassed to see our city in headlines around the world, once again,” Chow said. “It is not for good reasons that will make us proud.”
Chow accused Ford of having a substance abuse problem and said he should take a leave until he recovers.
News of Ford leaving was carried by U.S. late night TV shows, whose hosts had a last laugh about Ford’s drug of choice.
Still, Toronto Police say their investigation into a Project Brazen drug ring, in which a friend of Ford was charged, will continue as they search for a new video that has surfaced.
In the interim, councillors vow to return to the business of getting things done for residents.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly has taken over the Mayor’s staff and the rest of Ford’s powers that were left to him last November after he admitted smoking crack cocaine.
And, a rope-type fence that enclosed the Mayor’s office is gone. Looks like Chow is right, in that Ford has packed up his circus tent and moved on.