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Rob Ford arrives late for Toronto island airport council debate

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at his city hall office after missing the morning session of council on April 1 2014.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford missed part of an important city council meeting because of a back injury, according to his brother.

Plans to expand Toronto's Island Airport – which the mayor supports – are being considered by council in a meeting that began on Tuesday morning. The controversial proposal is facing another hurdle, as several councillors say they want to stop negotiations.

Mr. Ford arrived at City Hall at 1 p.m. and pushed past reporters without answering questions.

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The mayor missed the morning session because he hurt his back weightlifting, Councillor Doug Ford told reporters.

"He lifted a little too many weights. I tell him to stick to cardio, but he stuck with the weights. He was at the chiropractor getting his back fixed because he got carried away," he said.

When a reporter pointed out that the mayor's car had been parked outside of his house for much of the morning, the councillor said he was unsure what time the appointment had been scheduled for.

"I don't know. All I know is he was in the chiropractor."

Earlier, chief of staff Dan Jacobs said: "[The] Mayor isn't feeling well, he's hoping he will be in for the afternoon session."

Mr. Ford, who is campaigning for re-election, has boasted about his council attendance record and is typically present when meetings begin.

City council is considering a staff report that would give the go-ahead for talks to alter the existing agreement for the waterfront facility and open the door for plans by Porter Airlines to fly jets out of the airport. Under the staff proposal, no deal would be made without another vote at council next year after the municipal election.

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In addition to Tuesday's council meeting, Mr. Ford was invited to attend a noon-hour event relating to natural gas safety in front of City Hall in Nathan Phillips Square, said Chris Meyer, a spokeswoman for Enbridge Gas Distribution. She referred questions about whether the mayor had RSVP'd to his staff.

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