Doug Ford stands by his brother Rob during leave of absence
Watch video above: Rob Ford takes a leave of absence after drug scandal is reignited. Jackson Proskow reports
TORONTO -Toronto city councillor Doug Ford says it has been “one of the toughest days” of his life after his brother Rob announced a leave of absence as mayor of the City of Toronto.
“This is not an easy thing for anyone to do especially when you’re the mayor of the city,” Ford said during a press conference Thursday morning at city hall.
“As an older brother, I am relieved that Rob has faced his problems and has decided to seek professional help.”
Mayor Ford said in a statement released Wednesday night that he will seek treatment for a “problem with alcohol” after multiple media reports surfaced linking the Toronto mayor with drug and alcohol abuse.
Global has confirmed Thursday afternoon the mayor flew to Chicago. It’s unclear at this point where he is staying or receiving help.
“I love my brother,” Coun. Ford said, choking back tears. “I’ll continue to stand by my brother and his family throughout this difficult journey.”
Doug Ford has always been a staunch supporter of his brother, often protecting him from media criticism.
Watch: An emotional Doug Ford voices support for his brother.
But he admits he was “emotional” when Rob told him about his substance abuse issues.
“The hardest thing about this is he knows he let people down,” Doug said.
“He let his family down. He let his friends down. He let his colleagues down. He let his supporters down. And the people of Toronto.”
The mayor’s behaviour was yet again brought into the spotlight after The Toronto Sun reportedly obtained an audio recording of Ford making offensive remarks in an Etobicoke bar Monday night and The Globe and Mail revealed the existence of a second video of Ford smoking what looks like crack-cocaine.
The Toronto Star also published an article Thursday claiming witnesses saw Ford using cocaine at Muzik nightclub on March 15.
Ford has in the past denied allegations that he is addicted to drugs or alcohol, though he has admitted having used crack cocaine while in a “drunken stupor” during his tenure as the mayor of Canada’s largest city.
He vowed last year that he had given up alcohol – part of a campaign to rehabilitate his image in light of his admission.
His family had previously backed up his assertions and his decision not to resign or take an official leave.
Ford was unclear whether the weight of the newest allegations finally forced him to seek treatment.
“I told Rob that everyone knows someone who has faced these challenges. And I know they will wish him well and a speedy recovery,” Doug said.
“I encouraged my brother to take this time for himself and for the sake of his family many people believe they can handle any problem by themselves.”
The revelations in an audio recording released by The Sun has been condemned by politicians of all stripes.
In it, the voice said to be that of the mayor is overheard saying he would “like to f***ing jam her,” in reference to fellow mayoral candidate Karen Stintz.
“Rob Ford’s comments are gross. Rob Ford is not Toronto,” she said at a press conference. “If Rob Ford was truly sorry, he would have apologized to me last night and I’m not interested in an empty apology. We’ve seen too many of those.”
Global News cannot verify the authenticity of the audio recording or the video reportedly showing the mayor consuming drugs.
Follow live developments on Rob Ford’s leave of absence with Global News reporter Jackson Proskow.
With files from The Canadian Press