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Councillors, rivals react to Rob Ford’s exit from mayoral race

WATCH: The shocking news of Rob Ford’s withdrawal from mayor’s race and Doug stepping sparked strong reaction across Toronto. Mark Carcasole reports

TORONTO – The race for mayor took a shocking twist Friday with Rob Ford stepping down and his brother Doug taking his place, prompting a plethora of reaction.

John Tory sent a firm message, saying Doug is a worse candidate for the city of Toronto than his brother Rob.

The current front-runner, according to recent polls, said voting for Doug would bring “Ford more years of the chaos and division we’ve seen at city hall.”

“Doug Ford has repeatedly put down members of council who were his colleagues,” said Tory. “He has been insensitive to many of our communities, including very recently the parents of children with autism.”

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Tory said Doug will bring much of the same that his brother brought to the table.

“I understand they are two different people but I believe they’re cut from the same cloth. They took joy in the fact that they were defeated 38-2 (in the vote to move forward with the Raptors Exhibition grounds basketball facility) and the two people were both named Ford,” he said. “Let’s get council on a positive note where we’re talking about transit and building jobs.”

Fellow candidate Olivia Chow took a different approach, avoiding direct comment about Doug joining the race, saying she would wait until after he addresses the media to comment.

“What Doug Ford is like, we shall see. Whether there’s an incumbent or not I think that my ideas and visions are very different from (the Fords) and John Tory,” she said.

Rather than attack Rob Ford, she wished him a quick recovery.

At city hall, councillors gave their thoughts about the day’s developments.

Councillor Paula Fletcher called Doug’s addition a “game changer.” Fletcher has had verbal disputes with Doug in the past and questioned his ability and desire to lead.

“The mayor had been elected for 10 years when he ran for mayor and he was well known throughout the city. He’d visited people’s back yard. He did so many things and helped so many people individually,” she said. “Doug has been here for 4 years now and he’s openly said he can’t wait to come out.”

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Denzil Minnan-Wong, a one-time ally of the Fords who later led a group of councillors calling for the mayor to step down, said he was shocked by today’s news.

“I think we’re all sad and concerned with the mayor’s health and we hope the news that we’re going to hear in the next couple of days is going to be really positive, and he’s going to get better,” said Minnan-Wong.

Ford was diagnosed with a tumour in his abdomen on Wednesday after a visit to Humber River Regional Hospital. He was transferred to Mt. Sinai Hospital on Thursday where he underwent a series of tests.

Doctors overseeing Ford’s condition say test results are not expected for about a week.

Mayor Ford is not stepping aside from municipal politics entirely – he will be running in the Etobicoke riding inWard 2, the ward he represented before becoming mayor.

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