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Cheering on Argos, Ford gets rock-star treatment from fans

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford watches the CFL eastern final football game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger Cats in Toronto on Nov. 17, 2013.

FRED THORNHILL/REUTERS

An outcast in the political arena, Rob Ford is still a "rock star" in sports stadiums. Pandemonium broke out at the Rogers Centre after he arrived to cheer on the Toronto Argonauts.

Stealing the show after making his entrance at halftime on Sunday in an Argos jersey, Toronto's mayor opted to sit in a section filled with rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats supporters. So many fans began to mob him that security staff and Toronto Police did what they could to keep the crowds at bay.

"He's fearless. He's mixing up with the fans, and I wouldn't want it any other way," said Derek Barbosa, a 33-year-old Argos fan. He used his camera phone to document the occasion from 15 rows back. "I hashtagged 'Rob Ford is at the game' and people are just blown away."

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Likening Mr. Ford to a "rock star," Mr. Barbosa said he appreciated the mayor's courage. "At the moment, I think I would vote for him."

Mr. Ford, who has recently been a focus of an intensive police investigation, has lately admitted to public drunkenness and smoking crack cocaine. Yet he remains defiant amid a chorus of calls for him to go away.

Early Sunday, Mr. Ford gave a series of TV interviews insisting that he'll stay in office until he runs for re-election next fall. He told Fox News he was mobbed by well-wishers for four hours as he ate dinner in a restaurant Saturday.

Mr. Ford showed up at the game despite the CFL Commissioner having suggested that he might want to stay home. Once at the game, he did face the ire of some Ticat fans who had brought signs mocking him. Still, after the losing Argos fumbled away the football on the final play, the mayor got a lot of love.

A phalanx of a half-dozen police and security guards surrounded him as he walked away, strong-arming their their way through a mob that started chanting "Rob Ford! Rob Ford!"

"The Argos suck and he does crack, but who cares?" said Gilles Bourque, a 53-year-old retired postman from Hamilton. He wished the mayor well as Mr. Ford was hustled into his Escalade. "I shook his hand," said Mr. Bourque. "All and all, he does what he does in his personal life. But he hasn't been a bad mayor."

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About the Author
National security reporter

Focusing on Canadian matters during the past decade, Colin Freeze has reported extensively on the interplay between government, police, spy services, and the judiciary. Colin has twice been to Afghanistan to be embedded with the Canadian military. More

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