Scandal-plagued Toronto mayor launches re-election bid

Friday 18 April 2014 16.28
Rob Ford has admitted to binge drinking and smoking crack cocaine
Rob Ford has admitted to binge drinking and smoking crack cocaine

Toronto's scandal-plagued mayor Rob Ford, who has admitted to binge drinking and smoking crack, has launched his bid for re-election.

Mr Ford kicked off his campaign for the 27 October election telling supporters at a rally in Canada's largest city yesterday that he was grateful to those who have stuck by him.

"I soldier on day in, day out because of you people," said Mr Ford, flanked by his family and volunteers waving "Ford for Mayor" signs, the Toronto Star reported.

"I have experienced how none of us can go through our life without making mistakes. I've learned humility, kindness of people and the spirit of second chances. I owe the people a great debt of gratitude," he added.

The mayor, mired in scandal for months after being accused of unseemly behaviour during a series of drunken rampages, was stripped of most of his powers.

The anti-tax populist still enjoys strong support, according to opinion polls.

Mr Ford was first elected in a landslide in October 2010, picking up the support of 47% of Toronto voters, who liked his promises to cut taxes, focus on customer service and slash wasteful spending.

His diehard backers in the suburbs of the Canadian city have kept his approval ratings hovering around that mark even as the scandals mounted - alleged ties to gang members, admitted crack cocaine use and embarrassing YouTube videos.

But his support has slid in the run-up to the election.

The latest opinion poll, taken on Monday, put leftist candidate Olivia Chow at the head of the field with 34% of support, Mr Ford with 27% and former opposition leader John Tory with 24%, according to the Star.