Was flamboyant Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denied entry into the United States last week after flying to Chicago to check into a drug and alcohol rehab center?
The tantalizing prospects were first raised in an exclusive story by The (Toronto) Globe and Mail that said Ford turned back after boarding a plane in Canada bound for Chicago.
Ford has acknowledged problems with alcohol abuse and smoking crack cocaine.
CTV, quoting Roy Norton, consul general of Canada in Chicago, reports that Ford arrived at Chicago's Midway airport, but withdrew his entry request after speaking with U.S. Custom and Border Protection officials.
Norton told the Globe that Ford "voluntarily withdrew his application to enter the USA," adding that Ford "was not denied entry, per se."
The U.S. response is equally coy. A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Kris Grogan, citing the privacy act, declined to provide specific information on the Ford case. But Grogan helpfully pointed out to the Globe that anyone hoping to enter the United States must "overcome all grounds of inadmissibility" — which include criminality, security reasons and documentation requirements, among dozens of others.
Ford has been embroiled in scandal for more than a year after acknowledging his alcohol and drug usage. He has remained mayor, and is running for re-election, but has been stripped of much of his power by the Toronto City Council.
Last week, Ford said he was taking 30 days off to seek treatment for alcoholism after two new recordings surfaced featuring Ford's latest antics. The Toronto Sun said one captured Ford ranting in public and making lewd comments about a fellow council member. A video viewed by Globe reporters showed the mayor smoking a substance that a source told the newspaper was crack cocaine.
The mayor's lawyer, Dennis Morris, maintains that his client has checked into a treatment facility, although he, too, would not say whether he was in the United States, the Globe reports.
"The bottom line is he's in rehab, he's getting rehab and he'll be there for a number of weeks — and that's the answer. It's not like he's at a baseball game in Los Angeles or something," Morris told the newspaper.
The mayor's brother, Doug Ford, who is also a member of the city council, confirmed Tuesday that his Rob Ford is in rehab and "doing great," The Toronto Star reports.
He declined to say where his brother is being treated, citing confidentility concren "to not only the mayor but to the people in the rehab program."