Robert "Rob" Bruce FordMay 28, 1969 ~ March 22, 2016 (age 46)
TORONTO - Rob Ford — the most bombastic, unconventional and tough-talking politician in Toronto — is dead.
The former mayor died Tuesday at the age of 46.
Ford is survived by his wife, Renata, and his two young children, Stephanie and Dougie.
The death of the Ward 2-Etobicoke North councillor comes almost two years into his battle with cancer. Ford was diagnosed in September 2014 with pleomorphic liposarcoma.
Although he seemed to be on the road to recovery after undergoing chemotherapy, radiation treatment and major surgery to deal with an abdominal tumour, Ford revealed in October that he had developed two new tumours on his bladder and was facing an even longer fight with the disease. He lost that fight Tuesday.
Just before he began treatment for the two new tumours, Ford acknowledged his prospects of surviving were getting bleak.
“It’s not good, it’s not good at all but all I can do is fight,” Ford told reporters outside Mount Sinai Hospital in late October. “And I will, I’ll fight and I won’t stop fighting until the day I die.”
Ford served as mayor from December 2010 to November 2014, but his term was plagued by controversy including his 2013 crack cocaine scandal that gave him international notoriety as “Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor.”
A tough-talking, penny-pinching councillor from 2000 to 2010, Ford swept into the mayor’s chair as an outsider with an oft-repeated promise to “stop the gravy train” at City Hall.
Ford’s administration had several early victories, including cutting the city’s unpopular $60 car tax, making the TTC an essential service, contracting out more of the city’s trash collection, and hammering out a negotiated settlement with the city’s two largest unions — avoiding a lockout or strike.
But Ford faced tough opposition on council when it came to his push to complete the Sheppard subway and the idea was eventually rejected entirely. He did later take credit for making the case for building a subway in Scarborough so forcefully that council, the province and the federal government all agreed to fund the Bloor-Danforth line expansion from Kennedy Station to the Scarborough Town Centre rather than a planned Scarborough LRT.
Much of Ford’s legacy will be overshadowed by his personal battle with drugs and alcohol that eventually led to a political revolt at City Hall.
In 2013, Ford was caught on video smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine. He denied the allegations for several months before finally admitted to using the drug in “a drunken stupor.”
Council stripped him of most of his powers following the crack admission and after it was revealed Toronto Police had been conducting a lengthy investigation of the mayor and the mayor’s office dubbed Project Brazen 2. Out of that investigation, police charged Ford’s friend and occasional driver Sandro Lisi with extortion in connection with the crack video.
Just before the council vote, an angry Ford vowed that he would be vindicated in the next election while councillors would be punished.
Months later, he was caught again smoking crack — this time in his sister’s basement — and he went on to take a temporary leave of absence to go to rehab.
Upon returning from rehab, Ford admitted he was addicted to drugs and alcohol but claimed he had fought off his addictions. He returned to active campaigning over the summer of 2014.
But in the midst of that comeback bid in September 2014 Ford dropped out of the mayor’s race when he was diagnosed with cancer. He ran for and won his former council seat while receiving chemotherapy treatments. His brother Doug Ford vied for mayor in his place but came in second behind John Tory.
After Tory’s win, Rob Ford vowed he would run again in 2018.
“I will be running for mayor in four years,” he told the Sun’s Joe Warmington on election night.
“I will be the first person to sign up in 2018.”
Asked about his mayoralty during a visit to City Hall in November 2014 following additional chemotherapy treatments, Ford predicted “it will definitely be remembered, put it that way.
“No one’s going to forget it,” he told reporters. “Obviously, there are good and bad parts to it.
“People are going to remember it the way they want to remember it. A lot of it’s personal choice. People know that I saved a lot of money and people are going to know that I had a few personal struggles.”
Back at City Hall in September 2015, Ford seemed on the road to recovery and boasted that he’s “just getting back to the old Rob Ford.”
He said he had just had a CAT scan in September and it came back negative.
“They didn’t see any new tumours,” he said.
Ford also reflected on his cancer struggle up to that point.
“Some days I thought for sure I’m beating this and then other days I thought, ‘I’m not going to be around,’” he said.
“I want to thank everyone for their support.
“I’ve had people that have said, ‘Rob, I can’t stand your politics whatever they may be but I want to see you get better.’ It helps you a lot, when you have people supporting you, praying for you.”