Rob Ford's return: What will Toronto's mayor say today?
Rob Ford, fresh off rehab, will hold a news conference for invited media, but won't field questions
Mayor Rob Ford has arrived back at work after spending two months away from city hall in an alcohol-related rehab facility.
The mayor walked by reporters and went into the mayor's office without saying a word, entered the office with his entourage around 2:04 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
Ford will speak to the media at 3:30 p.m. ET Monday at a news conference that CBC.ca will carry live.
Two of Ford's top opponents in the mayoralty race — John Tory and Olivia Chow — have scheduled news conferences for after Ford's address at 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. respectively.
There's plenty of anticipation about what Ford will say in his address. Coun. Doug Ford gave little away when he spoke to the media Sunday about his brother's re-entry into Toronto politics after a year of scandal, and with four months to go until the Oct. 27 municipal election.
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Doug Ford said the mayor is "looking forward to coming back, that's for sure," he said. "He looks the same, but a little lighter. He'll be hungry and looking forward to meeting the people."
The mayor has been in rehab for about two months. He released a statement at the end of April acknowledging "a problem with alcohol," which led him to seek professional help.
Coun. John Parker told CBC News on Monday he's hoping to see Ford return a changed man.
"People in general will be looking for clear signs that everything we've come to expect from Rob Ford is in the past and someone new has emerged," he said.
Ford's trip to rehab came months after he admitted to having smoked crack cocaine, likely during one of what he described as his "drunken stupors."
The mayor's crack use admission, as well as the events that followed, became part of an ongoing news story that was picked up around the world.
Ford, who turned 45 last month, is seeking a second term this fall. He is up against dozens of candidates who have registered for the mayoral race.
Media unhappy about 'invite-only' newser
Ford's afternoon news conference is by invitation only, something that has left many members of the city hall press gallery unhappy.
Rob Ford's communications director Amin Massoudi told the Toronto Star that space restrictions are the reason not all press gallery members were invited.
The news conference will be held in the mayor's protocol office, a narrow room that can hold less than 30 people. Some reporters asked why it won't be held in the members' lounge, which could comfortably accommodate all city hall reporters.
Massoudi has said a feed of the news conference will be made available to reporters who weren't invited.
Torontoist editor Hamutal Dotan spoke about the media access issue on CBC Radio's Metro Morning show Monday.
"Members of the press gallery have not been invited," she said. "The president of the press gallery has not been invited. It's a very constrained group of people.
"If that's how [Ford] is handling himself on his first day back, that sets a very different tone than, for instance, if he held an open press conference where any member of the media could attend and we could ask questions on behalf of the residents of the city who want to know what rehab was like for Ford, how he's feeling now, how he plans to deal with the stresses of the campaign trail."
Press gallery president David Nickle sent an open letter to Massoudi, saying the mayor's office is thwarting democracy by restricting access to the news conference.
"There are many spaces at Toronto City Hall where the mayor can speak in front of all the interested Toronto media," said Nickle, who covers city hall for the Toronto Community News group of newspapers.
"Choking off access to any one of those outlets or journalists is a disservice to Torontonians by their duly elected mayor."
Not everyone who showed up at city hall Monday was angry with the mayor. Stephen Handler showed up wearing a "Ford Nation" T-shirt with another he planned to give to the mayor.
"I came down to welcome the mayor back and let him know that he's doing a great job and to continue on with his policies," Handler told CBC's Stephen D'Souza.
With files from The Canadian Press