TORONTO -- Mayor Rob Ford made it clear Thursday he “won’t back down” from this year’s election fight or standing up for his supporters.
The embattled mayor launched his re-election campaign in front of a crowd of hundreds at the Toronto Congress Centre.
“I’m running on my ideas of further cutting the cost of government, keeping taxes low and removing red tape,” Ford told the audience. “I won’t back down.”
Ford repeatedly touched on his refusal to “back down” throughout his speech and thanked his Ford Nation supporters for continuing to stick by his side.
“You’ve always had my back and I will always have yours,” he said.
Although the mayor made no direct mention of his crack cocaine scandal or the ongoing Toronto Police investigation focused on him, he acknowledged he’s had “some rocky moments over the past year” and invoked “the spirit of second chances.”
“None of us can go through life without making mistakes,” Ford said. “The people of Toronto know that I am just like them.”
Before the mayor entered the roughly half-full Dixon Rd. convention hall to bagpipes and supporters waving signs, Doug Ford introduced his brother by admitting Rob Ford has made “some mistakes in his personal life” but vowing he’s “committed to learning from those mistakes.”
“We are all human,” Doug Ford said. “You know Rob Ford returns phone calls, Rob Ford cuts spending, Rob Ford challenges the elites.”
Both Ford brothers trumpeted the mayor’s track record.
“Together we have derailed the gravy train,” Rob Ford told the cheering crowd. “They said it couldn’t be done ... we got it done.”
Supporters were lined up before the doors opened Thursday night — the first 1,000 people inside the building got a free T-shirt and flag. Other Rob Ford merchandise was also up for sale including mugs, foam fingers and buttons. The lineup for Rob Ford bobbleheads remained long throughout the night as people queued to buy several new dolls in the mayor’s likeness.
Ford campaign volunteer Johnny Cash said he’s confident the mayor will be re-elected.
“He’s a good guy, he’s a genuine guy,” Cash said. “(Are) there any skeletons in his closet? Well no, because they are all out for everyone to see. Only Jesus is the perfect one and he resurrects on Easter Sunday and you’re going to see our mayor … his powers are going to be resurrected on Oct. 27.”
Canadian boxing legend George Chuvalo was at the launch to show his support for Ford.
“He’s my kind of mayor,” Chuvalo told the crowd. “He’s a good-hearted guy, he’s a man of his word.”
Ahead of Ford’s campaign launch, rival candidate Olivia Chow said Ford’s track record is “you pay more, you get less.”
Candidate John Tory said people should “take a look at (Ford’s) ability to get things done or not.
“He’s been distracted by other matters and he seems to focus on how big his parties can be and he’s lost the ability to work with members of council and with the other governments so as a result this stuff doesn’t get done,” Tory said. “That’s the question people should be asking, not how big is his party but rather has he lost the ability to get things done?
“Has he lost his credibility? Can people be proud of him ever again as the mayor of this city?”
Candidate Karen Stintz dismissed the idea Ford is the lone candidate with a track record.
“The mayor is going to position himself as the only one with a track record and that is fundamentally untrue,” Stintz said. “I have a track record fighting for fiscal accountability and fighting for common sense at City Hall.”
— Files from Jack Boland