Toronto Mayor Rob Ford flew to Chicago on Thursday afternoon shortly after announcing he would take leave from his mayoral duties and re-election campaigning to seek help for what he described as a problem with alcohol.
Global News confirmed Ford departed Buttonville Airport in Toronto on a Chicago-bound private plane, though details on the nature of his trip were not confirmed.
(Follow the live blog on Rob Ford's rehab below)
“It’s not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life,” Ford said in a statement released Wednesday night after a second alleged video of him smoking crack and a lewd audio recording surfaced.
Ford's family has voiced support for his decision to seek treatment, though no one from the Ford family has confirmed the location of the mayor's treatment facility. Ford's brother, Toronto Councillor Doug Ford, was quoted saying only that the mayor was attending "one of the best facilities in North America" and that he would spend at least 30 days in treatment.
The Ford family has longtime ties to Chicago ever since Ford's father founded a printing business in nearby suburban Wooddale in 1962, ABC Chicago reports.
Ford was the CFO of the successful Deco Labels & Tags until he was elected mayor of Toronto in 2010. He made a heavily-publicized trip to Chicago to promote business ties with Toronto in 2012, but the mission was overshadowed by a series of typically Fordian gaffes.
Ford, who is seeking re-election this fall, refused to resign after video filmed last February surfaced showing the mayor smoking crack in what he described as "a drunken stupor."
05/01/2014 3:47 PM EDT
What We Know At The End Of The Day
Rob Ford has left Toronto likely for a facility in the U.S., he flew to Chicago earlier today.
It is not known how long he will stay in rehab although his brother, Doug, said that Rob would be starting a 30-day stay at a facility.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly has assumed all the powers of the mayor's office but this isn't a radical change because Kelly had gained most of these powers in late 2013 due to a special council vote.
Ford will vacate the job of Mayor if he misses three consecutive council meetings and is not given special dispensation by council.
Mayoral candidates Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz have condemned Ford's behaviour but have not called for his resignation, saying that Toronto's voters will decide in the Fall.
Candidates John Tory and David Soknacki called for Ford's resignation on Wednesday night.
05/01/2014 3:21 PM EDT
Should He Stay? Take Our Poll
05/01/2014 2:03 PM EDT
Where's Rob Ford Now?
More from Doug Ford. Mayor will attend "one of the best facilities in North America". He declined to provide location.— Jamie Strashin (@StrashinCBC) 2 years ago
Strashin also tweeted that Ford will begin 30 days of inpatient treatment.
05/01/2014 1:13 PM EDT
Ford To Chicago
NEW: Global News has Confirmed, Rob Ford flew on a private plane this morning to Chicago out of Buttonville Airport. #RobFord— Jackson Proskow (@JProskowGlobal) 5 years ago
Ford's family business Deco labels has a branch office in Chicago.
05/01/2014 12:06 PM EDT
City Manager's Note To City Staff
From city staff. "This is an unusual situation...biz continues as usual. There is no time limit on duration of leave. http://t.co/Noi8iVsrNu— Jamie Strashin (@StrashinCBC) 2 years ago
05/01/2014 11:56 AM EDT
Deputy Mayor Doug Kelly On Ford Scandal
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly addressed the media on Thursday.
"The events that have brought us together this morning should best be seen as a personal tragedy and not as a crisis of government," he said.
"I have agreed to assume the responsibilities of mayor. This transfer is effective immediately."
Kelly reiterates that the transfer of power shouldn't effect city business. He also wished the mayor well on his recovery.
He also explained that the mayor's staff would report to him but is not sure how long that arrangement would last.
"Finally, on behalf of myself, council and the Toronto public service, I want to convey my best wishes to Mayor Ford and his family."
When asked by reporters if anything has changed at City Hall, Kelly responded that "nothing much has changed."
Deputy Mayor Kelly had assume much of the powers of the mayor's office last year after Rob Ford was ousted by council.
City Manager Joe Penachetti also spoke briefly to media and reiterated that "It's business as usual" at City Hall. He also clarified that if Ford missed three council meetings (if he did not return by the July council meeting) his seat would become vacant unless council gave him permission.
05/01/2014 11:39 AM EDT
Who's talking about Rob Ford?
Geographic distribution of tweets mentioning Rob Ford in last 24 hours (darker means more, via Topsy). http://t.co/ipMTbmGbdJ— Steve Ladurantaye (@sladurantaye) 3 years ago
Not just Canadians, it seems that our friends in the US were also talking about Toronto's mayor.
05/01/2014 11:25 AM EDT
Police Want To See New Ford Tape
Police have not seen the video~Investigators would be interested in reviewing any new information related to their ongoing investigation ^mg— Toronto Police (@TorontoPolice) 5 years ago
05/01/2014 11:10 AM EDT
Doug Ford Reacts
Doug Ford, Rob Ford's brother, made an emotional statement to media at City Hall.
"This is one of the toughest days of my life," Doug told assembled media at City Hall.
"In saying that I also have a sense of relief. as an older brother, I'm relieved that Rob has faced his problems."
"I encouraged my brother to take this time for himself and the sake of his family."
"Sometimes you need the help of your family, your friends and professionals."
"Rob was very emotional when he told me that the hardest thing about this is that he knows that he let people down,"
Doug continued his statement, growing increasingly emotional and even choking back tears.
"I love my brother. I'll continue to stand by my brother and his brother through this difficult journey. I ask the media, please respect their privacy, thank you."
Doug, who has often acted as a surrogate and attack dog for the mayor, took no questions from the media.
05/01/2014 10:40 AM EDT
Olivia Chow Reacts
Mayoral candidate Olivia Chow spoke to media about the latest Rob Ford news.
"Last night when I heard the latest from Rob Ford, I was angry," she said.
"I was particularly angered by his offensive comments about women. This time, about Councillor Karen Stintz."
"It’s obvious that Mr. Ford is a sick man. It's obvious he has a serious drug addiction problem"
"As a mayor it's too late. He had his chance last year.... It's too late to take a break," Chow said to media on Thursday morning.
"The voters of this city will issue a verdict on him, and I'm sure we'll have a new mayor," she added.
"A mayor needs to treat everyone in this city with dignity, and he certainly has not done so." she said about the offensive comments the mayor made.
"It's too late. He had his chance. He should have [sought] help and stepped aside last year...tell the truth, and he didn't do so," she reiterated when asked about the mayor's drug use.
This is a developing story