Doug Ford keen to take over during Rob Ford's surgery recovery

Doug Ford says he's keen to serve as an unofficial fill-in for Toronto Coun. Rob Ford while his brother recovers from surgery to remove a malignant tumour, but it's questionable whether that can happen.

Municipal lawyer says only a council vote or byelection can officially return Doug Ford to council

Doug Ford, right, says he's keen to step in and serve as an unofficial Toronto council member while his brother, Rob Ford, recovers from surgery to remove a malignant tumour. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Doug Ford says he's keen to serve as an unofficial fill-in for Toronto Coun. Rob Ford while his brother recovers from surgery to remove a malignant tumour.

"I'll sit in the stands and I'll flash a 'yes' or 'no' vote on every single vote that comes up, even though it won't be counted," Doug Ford, a former councillor, told CBC News on Friday. "They'll need scalpers outside city hall because it will be a full house if I get down there."

On Thursday, Rob Ford met with doctors who determined the former mayor will undergo surgery on May 11 to remove the cancerous tumour discovered last fall in his abdomen. The surgery will require a recovery period of no less than four months.

They'll need scalpers outside city hall because it will be a full house if I get down there.- Doug Ford, on prospect of replacing Coun. Rob Ford during surgery recovery

Doug Ford, pointing to his family's long history in the Etobicoke North riding, said he would be happy to temporarily take over his brother's constituency work.

Rob Ford represented Ward 2 as a councillor before becoming mayor in 2010, the same year Doug Ford was elected the ward's councillor.

When a cancer diagnosis forced Rob Ford to drop out of the mayoral race last fall, Doug Ford ran for mayor in his place and lost to John Tory. Rob Ford, meanwhile, ran and easily won his former council seat.

"No one understands Ward 2 better than Rob and I do," said Doug Ford on Friday. "I'm itching to see that the people of Ward 2 have the same service they've had for years with our family. All they have to do is call Rob's office and I'll be at their front door."

Doug Ford said his return, whether in an official or unofficial capacity, would be "John Tory's worst nightmare."

"He has a free ride down there right now," he said. "No one is holding him accountable." 

Doug Ford return would require byelection or council vote

While Doug Ford is keen to pick up the torch for his ailing brother, municipal expert and lawyer John Mascarin said a number of steps must happen before Doug could return as an official voting member of council

Council can vote to declare a seat vacant if a council member misses three months of meetings. However, council can also vote to allow an absence to extend beyond three months. This is likely in special circumstances, such as a council member being out for health reasons.

If Rob Ford steps down and council declares the seat vacant, council has two options:

  • Vote to hold a byelection.
  • Name a replacement to serve until the next election, which wouldn't come for another 3½ years.

​"It's council's decision, not Rob Ford's decision, who steps in," said Mascarin.

Rob Ford has given no indication he plans to step down for health reasons.


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