September 18, 2014 / 8:24 PM / 5 years ago

Ailing Rob Ford urges voters to back brother for Toronto mayor

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

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, in his first public remarks since doctors revealed he has cancer, has asked residents of Canada’s largest city to vote for his brother Doug, who has replaced him on the ballot in next month’s mayoral election.

“I’m encouraging my brother to jump into this race wholeheartedly right now,” he said in a three-minute audio recording released on Thursday. “Toronto needs Doug Ford as mayor.”

The populist right-leaning mayor, his voice hoarse, said he was about to start chemotherapy for malignant liposarcoma, a type of cancerous tumor that arises in fat cells in deep soft tissue.

“In a few hours I’ll begin my chemotherapy, then I’ll spend the next little while with my family focused on getting better,” he said.

Doctors revealed on Wednesday that Ford has malignant liposarcoma, a rare and aggressive type of cancerous tumor, in his abdomen.

Ford was hospitalized last week with intense abdominal pains and dropped out of the hotly contested mayoral race on Friday, with his older brother Doug taking his place just ahead of the deadline to get on the ballot.

Doug, who was Rob’s campaign manager, has yet to campaign actively on his own behalf. Election day is Oct. 27

He is regarded as less charismatic but also less volatile than his larger-than-life sibling, who made global headlines by refusing to resign as mayor even after he admitted buying and using illegal drugs while in office.

Despite the various scandals that have dogged his time as mayor, Rob Ford has maintained strong popular support, but he was well behind the frontrunner in the current campaign in recent polls.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway

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