Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has tumor, election campaign up in air

Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:38pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - Speculation swept Canada's biggest city on Thursday after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who made global headlines last year for admitting he had smoked crack cocaine, was hospitalized with an abdominal tumor just six weeks before the mayoral election.

With biopsy results expected by the end of the week, Ford's illness raised the possibility he might have to pull out of the Oct. 27 election after having clung to power through a string of scandals, including his appearance in expletive-ridden videos and an admission he bought illegal drugs while in office.

Ford's brother and campaign manager, Doug Ford, was expected to give an update on the mayor's health and political future on Thursday, but pundits were already mulling the mayor's options in a close election race in which Ford is one of three front-runners.

"To some extent or another, the future of the city rests in the status of a tumor in the mayor's belly," columnist Edward Keenan wrote in the Toronto Star, the city's biggest daily newspaper and the one most critical of Ford.

"Whether he can carry on and fight, and what that will mean for his support, whether he needs to withdraw and turn a campaign that has been largely about his governance on its head, whether his brother might run in his place. The decisions need to be made soon," Keenan wrote.

Friday is the deadline for candidates to be added or removed from the ballot. Rob Ford's brother Doug is also a city councillor and could run for mayor, but is seen to lack the mayor's charisma and popular touch.

"In the short term, I think the status quo stays in place, and he's not going to withdraw until he has conclusive news," said Phil Triadafilopoulos, a political science professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

"If his diagnosis is not good, then it will be very hard for him to stay in the race," Triadafilopoulos said, adding that a serious illness would likely be a wash in terms of support, with some people worried he could not do his job and others voting for him in sympathy.   Continued...

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes his closing remarks during a mayoral debate hosted by the Canadian Tamil Congress in Scarborough, Ontario July 15, 2014.  REUTERS/Fred Thornhill