Rob Ford’s top challenger in Toronto’s mayoral race thinks he’s “ill.”
Olivia Chow, a former Canadian member of Parliament discussed Mayor Ford’s condition with Business Insider Thursday after he suddenly announced he would take leave from his job and campaign to seek “professional help” for his “problem with alcohol.” Ford’s bombshell came against the backdrop of new revelations there may be another video of him smoking crack cocaine. Last November Ford admitted he tried crack cocaine “in one of my drunken stupors.”
According to Chow, Ford’s drug use isn’t the only issue reason Toronto voters should reject him in October’s election.
“It’s up to the voters to decide in October … who should be their new mayor. It’s not just his scandals, it’s also his policies,” Chow said. “His scandals are of course a big part of it. He’s sick, he’s addicted, he has serious substance abuse problems, but his simplistic message needs to be debunked.”
Chow cited public transportation and jobs as two areas where Ford’s administration failed the people of Toronto. She said “unemployment rates have gone up” and city residents are “paying more to take public transit, but getting more crowded service.”
A Poll released last month showed Chow leading Ford by seven points, but his approval rating has remained relatively steady. Chow said it was “hard to say” where Ford’s support comes from.
“He taps into a part of our city that feels that life is pretty tough for them,” she explained. “Some of these folks feel that he understands their struggles.”
Chow believes Ford should have stepped away and sought help when he first admitted his drug use late last year.
“I think now is too late. He had his chance and voters will decide in October whether they want him as mayor,” said Chow.
Though she thinks Ford should have taken steps to get help sooner, Chow declined to weigh in on whether he has enough time now to resolve his issues before voters head to the polls.
“Obviously, he’s a sick man, he has a serious drug addiction problem, and he’s ill,” Chow said. “He needs help … he needs serious, professional help. … But it’s not up to me to say what kind of help or how long.”
Chow also wouldn’t say whether she’d be willing to debate Ford again if he returns to the campaign trail.
“I can’t speculate what he’ll be like when he’ll be back, so I can’t tell you that,” Chow said, adding, “I can’t say and I can’t predict.”
Despite all her criticism, Chow said she wished Ford luck working on his issues.
“I am sure that people of Toronto, everyone, would join with me to wish Rob Ford — and hope that he overcomes his addiction problem and hope that he recovers,” said Chow. “As a person, I hope he has the strength and that he can recover.”
However, Chow indicated she would not be reaching out to Ford to wish him well on his recovery.
“No, I don’t think,” she began before trailing off. “He needs to focus on his — I’m sure professionals are. I don’t know whether he is or not, but he needs professional help.”
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