Despite admitting to smoking crack cocaine while in office, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is running for re-election. He says he's confident he can win and has dismissed criticism of his drug use, alcohol binges and surreptitiously videotaped profane rants as mere personal attacks.
Not long after Tory and former TTC chairwoman Karen Stintz registered to run for mayor, Ford called in to a Toronto radio station to tout his record.
The Newstalk1010 host Jerry Agar asked Ford if he could guarantee no more "embarrassing videos" would emerge during the remainder of the campaign and four more years as mayor if he is re-elected.
"Talk is cheap," Ford said. "Actions speak louder than words."
Agar noted that the mayor has said that previously, then a video surfaced in January showing Ford rambling in a Jamaican accent and using profanity. Ford admitted he had been drinking, despite vows he had given up alcohol.
"You may be perfect, maybe the rest of society is perfect, all I know is that my record speaks for itself," Ford countered in the radio interview. "I'm a real person...I'm straight up."
Ford, Tory and Stintz are all conservative-leaning candidates, leading to a crowded slate on the right of centre. There has also been speculation that Toronto New Democrat MP Olivia Chow will enter the race this spring, though she has not yet announced her intentions.
Though there are now 31 people who have registered to run for mayor, Tory is seen as one of Ford's few credible challengers.
The former president and CEO of Rogers Media and Rogers Cable was a successful businessman and most recently a radio host, but he has a dodgy electoral history to overcome.
Tory ran for mayor in 2003 but lost to David Miller. As leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives he failed to win his own seat in the 2007 election. Then when another member of the legislature gave up her seat so Tory could run in a byelection he lost again and resigned as leader.
Tory was surrounded by a throng of reporters as he ended months of speculation by filing his registration papers Monday, and was asked how he could combat any attacks coming from Ford and Ford's brother, who is the mayor's campaign manager.
"My challenge is to put forward a positive campaign about the future of the city and that's what I'm going to do," said Tory.
"I have ideas on making the city livable...I'll talk about my positive ideas. How others choose to run their campaigns is entirely up to them."
Though Tory stayed away from any trash talk, the mayor's brother didn't waste any time criticizing Tory and framing the race as one between the "little guy" and the "elites."
"I think it's going to be very clear to the people how this election's going to go," said Coun. Doug Ford. "It's the small, hardworking, blue collar folks against the establishment and getting those folks to feather their nests."
Rob Ford "has a record of protecting the little guy," his brother said.
But the Fords are certainly no "blue collar folks" themselves.
Their father built a successful label business, at which both brothers worked until they entered politics. The family is well-off, but while their exact net worth is not known, they own homes in a wealthy suburb of Toronto, several condominiums in Florida and a cottage in tony Muskoka, in addition to Deco Labels and Tags.
Rob Ford served as a city councillor for 10 years and at one point was rapped on the knuckles by the city's integrity commissioner for not using any of his office budget, instead paying out of pocket for supplies. He was not disclosing how much of his own money he was spending, which was in violation of council policy.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne — who beat Tory in her riding in the 2007 provincial election — would not directly comment on Tory jumping in to the mayor's race.
"I am very pleased that across the province there are good people, thoughtful people, putting their names on municipal ballots, including in the city of Toronto," she said.
"I wish them all well. I'm not going to weigh in on one candidate over another or one idea over another, but I really do think it is important that we have good, competitive races in every part of the province."
Municipal elections in Ontario are set for Oct. 27.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said John Tory had been president and CEO of Rogers Communications.
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