If you were afraid that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's alleged intention to clean up his act and move forward from a string of drunken indiscretions and the ongoing crack video controversy was going to make for a kinder, gentler City Hall, you forgot one thing.
Rob Ford has a brother, who is also a city councillor with higher political ambitions and no apparent desire to tone down the aggression or rhetoric.
Doug Ford, who the mayor recently claimed would one day be premier of Ontario, has stepped into attack mode after Toronto police confirmed the existence of a video reported to show Rob Ford smoking from a crack pipe.
Doug Ford told CBC News on Tuesday that Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is biased against his brother and demanded he step down. Ford told the network that Blair "is the most political police chief we've ever had."
Full coverage: Rob Ford
In fact, Ford went on a media blitz, calling into morning shows and talk radio to make the same allegations. He told AM640 that Blair "wanted to go out and put a political bullet right between the mayor's eyes."
More obscurely, Ford also attacked Andrew Pringle, a member of the police board, for having a friendship with Blair, even though it was the Fords themselves that pushed for Pringle to be appointed to the board.
It is worth noting that, as the Toronto Star reports, Pringle is the former chief of staff to John Tory, a conservative political veteran who is perceived to be a potential mayoral candidate who would cut into Ford's support base. For a guy who claims he hates political games, Doug Ford is always working a few moves ahead on the chess board.
Ford later held a press conference and reiterated his apparent concerns, calling for Blair to step down and ironically calling for a full investigation into the matter. Blair responded by saying he would not respond to personal attacks.
"We do our job, and we do it without fear or favour," Blair told a press scrum. "We have a responsibility to uphold the law, to gather evidence and when there is evidence to support a charge, present it before the courts. That has been done in this case."
Further, Doug Ford maintained his assault on the media itself. One of the Fords' talking points has long been that the media is out to get them. On Monday, Doug claimed CP24 reporter Katie Simpson wanted to "kill" the mayor.
The problem with all of this is that, for Doug Ford, this is politics as usual. Every time Rob Ford gets into trouble, his older, louder and perhaps angrier brother steps into the public spotlight and attacks anyone and everyone. The act is so tired that former chiefs of staff have rolled their eyes at the inevitability of the move.
But Doug Ford's spin is perhaps even more dangerous than his mayoral brother's. Because while Rob Ford goes through a very personal struggle in the public spotlight, Doug Ford uses it as a shield to draw battle lines, attack his enemies and scorch the earth.
Now Toronto's Norman Wilner discussed the fall of Rob Ford in a recent post and had this to say about Doug:
I'd be willing to put money on Doug having forced his better-liked brother to stay in a position he neither understands or much enjoys so that he — Doug — can ride his populist coattails into provincial politics. I would also wager that the only reason Rob hasn't allowed himself to be talked into stepping down and going to rehab is that Doug still thinks this whole disaster can be turned around.
That can't be right, because when Doug Ford was accused of being an enabler over the weekend, he said that argument offended him. And Rob Ford said his brother totally didn't enable him. And they should be the experts on the subject, right?
So here we are, just days after the mayor issued a hollow apology and promised to move forward, Doug is still crafting a battle against his perceived foes and using Rob as a battering ram.
They say that the best defence is a good offence. But at this point Doug Ford and his politically driven attacks are just plain offensive.
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