Could Doug Ford replace his brother as Toronto’s mayor?

Matt Coutts
Daily Brew

After the ouster, the appeal and the by-election — which Rob Ford likely can't run in — there is still a possibility that Ford Nation will have a champion in the Office of the Mayor.

Have you forgotten they come in pairs?

The latest from Toronto City Hall is the possibility that Doug Ford will make a bid to replace his brother, who was thrown from office by an Ontario Superior Court judge earlier this week.

Citing anonymous sources, The Toronto Star reports that Ford's closest allies gathered to come up with a strategy on how to recover from the decision, which will see Rob removed from office in two weeks.

[ Pulse of Canada: Did Rob Ford deserve to be removed from office? ]

According to the Star's Robyn Doolittle, Plan A is to get the ruling overturned and Plan B is for the mayor to win the by-election. However, the city's top legal adviser said her interpretation was that Ford would be blocked from running in that potential by-election:

Doolittle outlines the Ford brothers' Plan C:

If Ford is banned from running in a by-election, his councillor brother would run in his place. The mayor would then turn his attention to provincial politics, which Doug Ford had been planning to do this year.

Mayor Doug Ford. Well, crazier things have happened. (Literally, like as recently as two years ago when a crazier thing happened.)

Thinner, more tan and prone to bouts of eye contact, Doug Ford differs from his beleaguered brother in a few subtle ways. In other ways, he is just Ford 2.0.

The message: Doug and Rob often share the same sound bites, railing against unnecessary spending and harping against the same perceived liberal attacks against them.

The temper: Upon learning his brother had lost the conflict-of-interest case, Doug barreled through a swarm of media, knocking those who didn't move aside, to stand next to Rob as he offered comments.

The loyalty: See above.

Working against Doug is the fact that he lacks Rob's 10 years of experience on city council fighting for the taxpayers and building a reputation as a city-wide thorn. He is Rob's brother. It is enough to secure the support of much of Rob's support base, but he can't rely on his last name alone.

Many of Rob Ford's supporters on council have also bristled at Doug's involvement in running the mayor's office, including his penchant for going off-script and speaking on behalf of his brother over the past two years.

More on Rob Ford:

And one of Rob's closest allies, Giorgio Mammoliti, also appears set on blocking a Ford chain of succession. Mammoliti quit Ford's executive committee in the wake of his ouster and began championing a clearing of the deck.

On Tuesday, Mammoliti also tried to launch a vote that would block a by-election from happening under any circumstances, but was told he would have to wait until the mayor's seat was vacant. He said he doesn't want the city to waste $7 million on the by-election but the alternative, council selecting Ford's replacement, would likely put an end to Doug Ford's mayoral ambition.

The former key Ford ally said Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday should finish the term, adding that whoever succeeds Ford should not be allowed to run for mayor in the 2014 municipal election.

Many names have been dropped in connection to a run for mayor — from NDP MP Olivia Chow to talk show host John Tory to councillors Adam Vaughan, Shelley Carroll and Holyday, to name a few.

But it remains in question how many of them would want the temporary position should they be stopped from running in 2014. In that case, it would feel like whoever is elected is just keeping the seat warm for Ford's presumed return. So ... why shouldn't it be Doug?

In a new Forum Research poll on possible by-election results, Rob Ford placed second with 32 per cent support behind Olivia Chow's 40 per cent support. Councillors Adam Vaughan and Shelley Carroll finished third and fourth.

Swapping the elder Doug Ford in for his brother and the level of Ford support dropped, albeit slightly, to 26 per cent.

This is all grand speculative forecasting, of course. The Ford camp's aim is still reinstalling Rob as the city's mayor, one way or the other.

When asked by the Star if he planned to run, Doug said: "[A]ll I can tell you is Ford Nation is rallied like they've never been rallied — even before the (2010) election — and they're ready to go … Rob's gonna run and Rob's gonna win."

If he doesn't run — if he can't run — however, Ford Nation has an alternative in place. Doug Ford would run, and he might win. And just maybe no one will notice a difference.