Doug Ford, a rookie councillor representing the same west Toronto ward his brother once held, unexpectedly threw his hat in the ring last month after the mayor was hospitalized with what was later diagnosed as a rare and aggressive form of cancer.
A vocal champion of his brother's fiscally and socially conservative agenda, Ford was long seen as the mayor's right-hand man at city hall and has vowed to carry on what he called the family's legacy if elected on Oct. 27.
But he's also taken pains to stand out from the scandal-plagued mayor, presenting himself as a straight-shooting and stable family man with no connection to the world of drugs or history of substance abuse.
"I love my brother more than anything, but Rob Ford is not Doug Ford. Doug Ford is running for mayor," he told reporters after a recent mayoral debate.
The second son of Diane and Doug Ford Sr., Ford was immersed in politics and business most of his life. His father co-founded an adhesive products company, Deco Labels and Tags, and went on to become a Conservative member of the Ontario legislature from 1995 to 1999.
Ford took a leadership role in the family business and was elected to Toronto city council in October 2010, in the same election that propelled his brother to the mayoralty. The ensuing four years saw him act as part enforcer, part spokesman for the often media-averse mayor.
Unlike his brother, who made headlines for his struggles with substance abuse, Ford sparked local controversies with his contentious remarks, which once saw him threatened with a defamation lawsuit by the city's police chief until he publicly apologized.
His comments have also landed him in hot water during the campaign. When asked in a debate to address anti-Semitic comments allegedly made by his brother in a video recording, Ford praised his Jewish doctor, dentist and lawyer, drawing boos from the crowd.
While his brother kept his family out of the public eye, Ford has thrust his into the spotlight, trotting out his wife Karla for the cameras. The couple, who met 29 years ago at a garden party, has four daughters — Krista, Kayla, Kara and Kyla.
In a recent interview with the Toronto television station CP24, Karla Ford described her husband as a high-flying businessman who stayed close to his daughters despite a busy travel schedule that kept him away from home much of the week.
Beneath Ford's tough exterior lies a soft-hearted father who leaves discipline to his spouse, drinks chocolate milk instead of coffee and loves to collect art, she told the station.
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