Rob Ford, the Toronto mayor stripped of his authority and shamed around the world for smoking crack and hanging out with criminals, declared himself the best leader that Canada's No. 1 city has ever had and filed Thursday for reelection.
Ford was first in line at Toronto City Hall, showing up before the election office opened its doors at 8:30 a.m. and began registering early filers for the Oct. 27 municipal election.
"I’ve got the strongest track record. I’ve been the best mayor that this city’s ever had. My record speaks for itself," Ford told journalists gathered to watch the start of his defiant bid for another four-year term at an hour when he is rarely seen at the office, the Torontoist website noted.
Ford was stripped of most of his authority by the City Council in November after a spate of revelations about his having smoked crack cocaine, kept company with drug dealers and threatened murder in a substance-fueled rant captured on cellphone video.
Doug Ford, the mayor's brother and a Toronto city councilor, will head the reelection campaign.
"This city has never been run better than under the Ford administration. That's facts," Doug Ford told journalists after his brother paid the $200 campaign registration fee. Alluding to what the Fords have cast as a journalistic conspiracy against them, the councilor added tauntingly that "the Media Party, they can come after us for the next 10 months."
Mayor Ford boasted of great fiscal accomplishments since his 2010 election, claiming to have saved city taxpayers $1 billion, kept property tax increases at 1.75% or less and dropped unemployment in the city from 11% to 7%.
The Toronto Star disputed five of the mayor's claimed achievements, noting that property tax hikes were 2% in 2013 and 2.5% the previous year, that joblessness increased during his term from 9.4% to 9.8% and that the purported billion in savings was a figure arrived at through "dubious math, exaggerations and omissions."
The newspaper that first reported Ford's crack use in May also provided damning statistics to undermine his claim to have had the best attendance record on the City Council and said there was "no evidence" to support Ford's claims that city officials "started spending like drunken sailors" as soon as he lost control over city finances.
In spite of the scandals, Ford has continued to have support from Toronto voters who applaud his fiscal conservatism. The mayor, who ran four years ago on a campaign to "stop the gravy train," still had a 42% job approval rating last month, according to a Forum Research poll.
Toronto's municipal charter makes no provision for removing an elected mayor from office, and Ford's refusal to step down voluntarily after recorded evidence of his misbehavior was made public compelled the City Council to divert his staff and resources to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.
Kelly has maintained that he won't run for the mayor's office when Ford's term officially expires later this year. But at least two other city figures have registered to run, and Councilor Denzil Minnan-Wong has also indicated he might challenge Ford, his political ally until the scandalous revelations that brought embarrassing notoriety to the city last fall.