Rob Ford 'enjoying' rehab for substance issues, columnist says

A newspaper columnist who interviewed Rob Ford on Tuesday told CBC News that Toronto's mayor said he was in rehab for his substance abuse issues, and was "apologetic and reflective."

Reporter interviewed Ford on Tuesday, but could not confirm Toronto mayor's location

Toronto mayor tells Toronto newspaper he is attending group meetings, working out 2:53

A newspaper columnist who interviewed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told CBC News that Ford said he was in rehab for his substance abuse issues, and was "apologetic and reflective." 

The Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington said he interviewed Ford by phone from an undisclosed location on Tuesday.

"[Ford] said that he was in rehab," Warmington said Wednesday. "He was describing what he's been through, which includes a lot of counselling. His spirit seemed good."

Last week, Ford announced he was taking a leave of absence to seek treatment for a "problem with alcohol."

Ford's brother, Coun. Doug Ford, said Tuesday the mayor is "in rehab," but the family has not disclosed the mayor's location, citing privacy concerns of other patients.

Warmington, who published a column in the Sun's Wednesday edition about his interview with Ford, told CBC News that Ford would not disclose where he's in rehab.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford left his house Thursday morning a day after announcing he was temporarily stepping aside from both the mayor's race and his re-election bid. He's now "enjoying" rehab, a Toronto newspaper columnist who spoke with the mayor told CBC. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

"He sounded a little tired but he also sounded empowered," said Warmington. "The stuff coming out of his mouth wasn't as dark and miserable as the stuff we've seen in some of his videos."

Warmington said Ford claims to be benefiting from the treatment he's receiving.

"He's really enjoying it," said Warmington. "He talked about it being like a football camp, with lots of structure. I don't know if fun is the word but it's certainly something he's bought into. He really did sound genuine and reflective."

Warmington said he was not able to verify Ford's location or confirm that the mayor is actually undergoing addiction treatment.

"I was taking him at his word," Warmington said. "I don't have any reason to not believe it, but he wouldn't tell me [his location]."

Ford plans to return to mayoralty race

Warmington also said Ford plans to return to his the mayoralty campaign after his treatment concludes.

"He says he is going to, at some point, return in time for the election campaign, and his plan is also to win that and he says [the treatment] is going to help him do that," said Warmington.

Toronto voters head to the polls on Oct. 27.

Some members of council are calling on Ford to disclose more details about his treatment, citing the mayor's record of lying in the past about his behaviour frequent denials that he suffers from an addiction to either drugs or alcohol. 

Ford's leave of absence came after two new recordings — one of unruly behaviour, the other of apparent drug use — were revealed in newspaper stories last week.

It was reported that Ford flew to Chicago late last week, but on Monday, CBC News confirmed that Ford turned back before officially entering the United States.

Ford sightings

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.

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 had 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.