Rob Ford, the once eccentric mayor of Toronto whose reign was marked by bombast and substance abuse, died Tuesday after battling a rare, aggressive cancer the past two years, his family announced. He was 46.
Ford made international headlines after a 2013 scandal in which he admitted to using crack cocaine, public drunkenness and drinking and driving, prompting colleagues to strip him of some of his mayoral powers.
The scandal vaulted Ford onto the stage of the outrageous, and despite the negative attention, he aimed for a second run as mayor. But in the fall of 2014, Ford announced he had a rare form of cancer called liposarcoma that grows in the fat cells, and he had a tumor in his abdomen.
The diagnosis forced him to drop his re-election campaign. He re-emerged on the political scene in October 2014, winning his old Toronto City Council seat representing Ward 2.
His chief of staff, Dan Jacobs, said Monday that Ford was receiving palliative care after the former mayor had not responded to chemotherapy when the cancer first appeared in his abdomen and then reappeared last year in his bladder.
“With heavy hearts and profound sadness, the Ford family announces the passing of their beloved son, brother, husband and father,” Jacobs said Tuesday in a statement.
Jacobs described Ford as a “dedicated man of the people.” He said the family wished to make no comments other than to ask that their privacy be respected.
Reactions poured in Wednesday.
The current Toronto mayor, John Tory, said the city was reeling from news of Ford’s death. “I know there were many affected by his gregarious nature and approach to public service,” Tory aid.
“Despite the challenges he fought and the controversies he faced, it is my sincere hope that Canadians will remember Rob Ford for his enduring love for his community and country, and his dedication to his constituents,” said Rona Ambrose, interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Ford left his wife, Renata, and two children; brothers Doug and Randy; sister, Kelly; and his mother, Diane.
SOURCE: Gregg Zoroya and Melanie Eversley