Toronto councillors are split on whether the public should know where Mayor Rob Ford is being treated for substance abuse, but Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong says that he spoke to the mayor over the phone Tuesday and he seemed in "good spirits."
Ford took a formal leave of absence last week, issuing a statement saying he was seeking help for alcohol-related issues. The mayor later boarded a private flight to Chicago, but it has since been revealed that he ended up turning around and leaving the U.S.
Coun. Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, told reporters Tuesday that the city’s chief magistrate "is in a rehabilitation program," though he declined to say where. Rob Ford's lawyer also confirmed the mayor is "100 per cent" in rehab.
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In the afternoon, Minnan-Wong said that he had taken a telephone call from the mayor.
"He sounded like he was in good spirits, I think he was getting better," said Minnan-Wong.
Minnan-Wong wouldn’t say if he knew where the mayor was, telling the media that he believes it is up to Ford or his family to disclose that.
"I believe that the mayor’s entitled to his privacy and I don’t believe I have the authority to disclose where he is," he said.
Also Tuesday, Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti said Toronto residents should be privy to some minor details about the mayor’s treatment, including verification that Ford is getting help and where.
"The mayor is the mayor of the whole city and some of us are actually asking this because we actually care and want to know that he’s going to be OK," he said.
Mammoliti also alleged that some of the mayor’s colleagues "would like to see him dead and die of this ailment."
Questioned about this claim, Mammoliti went on to criticize "how aggressive and awful some of them are being towards this illness."
His claim was met with immediate skepticism.
"As I’ve said on many, many occasions, I’m having a harder and harder time understanding anything Coun. Mammoliti says, or attaching any relevance or sanity to it," said Coun. Gord Perks.
'A private health matter'
Perks said he believed the public doesn’t need to know where Ford is getting help, or what the rehabilitation program involves.
"That’s a private health matter," he said.
Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon made similar remarks on Tuesday, though she said she would like to know that he is getting help.
"I think it would be great to know that he is in treatment. I do think we need to respect the privacy of someone who is ill and who is getting the help they need," she said.
Coun. Shelley Carroll said the Ford family should say where the mayor is for treatment.
"I want to believe that he’s there, because we want him to get well. We’re very worried about his family," she told reporters Tuesday. “But really, disclosing it is part of showing that the whole family is committed to it and that healing is happening.”
While many Torontonians continued to wonder where the mayor was, some claimed to have actually seen him in town on Tuesday. Two Tim Hortons employees and a local teenager told CBC News they saw Ford at a Tim Hortons in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto's west end.
There were other claims of alleged sightings of the mayor on social media.
Year of scandal
Ford has long faced questions about his relationship with drugs and alcohol, particularly since reports emerged last year that someone had been shopping a video showing the mayor using what appears to be crack cocaine.
The mayor long denied those reports, as well as the video’s existence. But that all changed when police revealed at the end of October that they had obtained a video that was consistent with what the media had reported. In early November, Ford admitted that he had smoked crack cocaine.
The story about the so-called crack tape as well as the mayor’s admission and its aftermath have been covered by media around the world.
Ford is in the midst of seeking a second term as mayor. The election is this October and more than 50 other candidates are seeking his job.
Prior to being elected as mayor in 2010, Ford served for 10 years as a city councillor.