Rob Ford scandal: Does this mean he's done?

Political watchers are wondering whether Rob Ford, who announced yesterday he's taking a leave of absence and a break from the mayoralty race to deal with substance abuse issues, can bounce back from the latest scandal.

Will the latest revelations kick off a comeback story or end the Toronto mayor's political career?

Rob Ford appears to be smoking from a pipe in a still image given to the Globe and Mail and The people who made the video are trying to sell it for six figures. (

As Rob Ford takes a break from the Toronto mayoralty race amid new revelations about his substance abuse, some political watchers are wondering if they'll amount to an end to his re-election bid.

On Wednesday, Ford announced he would take a leave of absence from the campaign and his duties as mayor after two new recordings surfaced.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is seen leaving his house last Thursday morning, a day after saying he will temporarily step aside from both the mayoral race and his duties as mayor. His brother Coun. Doug Ford says the mayor is in rehab at an undisclosed location. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

The Toronto Sun reported late Wednesday it had obtained a new and "raunchy" audio recording of Ford "ranting and swearing" in a Toronto-area bar on Monday night.

The Globe and Mail claims to have seen a second video, shot last weekend, of Ford smoking what a source told the paper was crack cocaine.

Ford issued a statement saying he was taking a break from his duties and efforts for re-election in the Oct. 27 municipal vote, to seek professional help, admitting he has struggled with an alcohol problem "for some time."

It's the latest in a scandalous year for Ford, who has been at the centre of alcohol and drug abuse allegations, lewd comments and his repeated promises that his bad behaviour is behind him.

Does this amount to a death blow?

Jamie Watt, chair of public relations firm Navigator, was on CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Thursday and said most politicians in Ford's situation would have "pulled the duvet over their head" and resigned, possibly never to return. But with Ford, it's not so straightforward.

"The question is, is this the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?" said Watt. "To step out in the middle of the campaign … is going to be very challenging."

Watt said stepping aside now is "the right decision" though he says he would have advised Ford to take a break and get help last spring, when the crack scandal first broke. That would have given him time to do a proper stint in rehab and spin a plausible comeback story before the mayoralty campaign got underway.

Another problem is that Ford has a history of vowing to reverse his bad behaviour, but the latest revelations appear to be "more of the same," said Watt.

"He said he got his problems under control, but obviously that wasn't true. At some point, people are going to say 'enough is enough.'"

Hamutal Dotan, who writes about city hall issues for Torontoist, said she believes there's a chance Ford could rebound.

"He's survived so many scandals that other people would not have," she said on Metro Morning.

However, Dotan also points out that in Ford's statement, he admits to a problem with alcohol, but not drugs.

"There's still a gap between what everyone is saying about his behaviour and his response to it," she said.

Globe and Mail reporter Robyn Doolittle also spoke about the latest Ford news when she was on Metro Morning on Thursday.

Doolittle, whose book documents the year-long Ford scandal, said she believes much of Ford's core support won't be shaken by today's news.

"There is this bedrock of Ford support that is somewhere between 20 and 25 per cent that will not move, no matter what," she said. "There's not a lot of time left in this election … to overcome something like this."