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WARMINGTON

Mayor Rob Ford ready for his comeback 0

By Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun

In this photo taken by a fellow resident at the GreenStone addiction treatment facility, Mayor Rob Ford cools off in the rehab pool.

In this photo taken by a fellow resident at the GreenStone addiction treatment facility, Mayor Rob Ford cools off in the rehab pool.

Toronto - 

No one is really sure what to expect June 30 when Mayor Rob Ford leaves Muskoka en route for the city in which he is the elected chief magistrate.

Not even Ford himself.

What is known is his intention to return to the mayor’s chair after a two-month-long stint in rehab.

And to the election campaign.

“Please make the necessary arrangements for my office locks to be restored to their state prior to my departure, for 1 p.m. on the date of my return,” he wrote to the city clerk.

What happens after that is the great unknown. There will be a lot of eyes on the mayor as he tries to get back in the game in which he knows there can be no more major blunders.

The election is Oct. 27 and it is difficult to predict how the public is going to respond to the mayor after his scandals — particularly the crack cocaine use, alcohol abuse and offensive racial and homophobic language caught surreptitiously on video. Will they offer him a clean slate? Or is there too much damage done?

When I recently spoke to him over the phone from rehab, I teased him that he’s like a team in the third period down 4-1 but with still enough time left on the clock for a comeback.

“That’s pretty good,” he said laughing. “I figure I am behind 10-0.”

There was more laughter on both ends of the phone.

It’s good to see he has his sense of humour. He seems humbled by the position he has put himself in. He has acknowledged to me several times from rehab he realizes the blame for all that has happened falls on him. But he still thinks he can win.

And more importantly, he thinks his track record and fiscal message makes him the best candidate of the current roster on the ballot.

Will voters forgive him?

We have had a couple of sneak previews of how he is doing in rehab. There were sightings of the mayor walking in nearby Muskoka towns, there was the Escalade incident in which a woman was charged with impaired while at the wheel of his vehicle, and pictures of him out for his birthday at a local roadhouse.

My sources tell me it was a bit of a rocky settling for the mayor in the first couple of weeks, which is normal for someone in his situation.

But he did settle in.

“I have been in here with him and I can tell you the mayor is doing great,” said a former professional athlete who is at GreeneStone with Ford. “And I can tell you he makes a mean cup of coffee.”

The mayor, the athlete and others gathered around the TV in the last week to watch the election results, some World Cup soccer and, of course, the exciting double overtime Stanley Cup-winning game.

Will Mayor Ford pull out the same kind of victories they witnessed on TV? The athlete told me over the phone that the staff and patients at GreeneStone are rooting for Ford.

“People are going to be impressed because he has lost some weight and is looking terrific,” he said.

The shot the Sun ran with a column a couple of weeks ago with Ford in his bathing suit was just the beginning, he said.

“He is working out every day here.”

In fact, before Ford leaves the rehab centre June 30, he wants to make sure he gets one more good workout in.

The question on everybody’s mind is what happens after that? How is he going to cope after 60 days of rehab with going into a tough political campaign and taking on the issues of the day as mayor?

Ford says he is up for it.

“I am itching to get back,” he said. “But first I must take care of my health.”

He feels he has been doing a good job on that. There are also measures being taken back in Toronto to assist him with the personal transition.

One of the first things he promised to look into is what is going on with the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Blvd. construction happening at the same time.

He said he’s also hoping to debate transit and the second land transfer tax as part of his platform.

Ford told me that with his second chance he is going to make the most of protecting taxpayers from high-spending politicians.

Anyway, fasten your seatbelts politicos. It is going to fun. Who said summer in the news game is boring?

Poll

Will you grant Mayor Rob Ford a clean slate and give him a second chance in the election?

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