Larger-than-life Rob Ford, former mayor of Toronto, died from cancer on Tuesday, his family said. The 46-year-old, best known abroad for drink and drugs escapades, was being treated for an aggressive form of cancer.
"With heavy hearts and profound sadness, the Ford family announces the passing of their beloved son, brother, husband, and father, Councillor Rob Ford, earlier today at the age of 46," a statement from his family said on Tuesday. "A dedicated man of the people, Councillor Ford spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto."
Ford's tenure as mayor of Canada's largest city from 2010 to 2014 was colored by revelations about his drinking and illegal drug use.
The spotlight fell on Ford in May 2013, when Toronto Star and website Gawker reported the existence of a video that appeared to show the mayor inhaling from a crack pipe.
"Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine," Ford said. "But, no, do I? Am I addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago."
Police interviews also show that members of Ford's staff accused the mayor of making sexual advances toward a female staffer.
Ford was never charged with a crime, but his political days were numbered from then on. After the crack saga he refused to resign, but the City Council stripped him of most of his powers.
Ford entered rehab in April 2014 after newspaper reports detailed three different nights in which the mayor was extremely intoxicated.
As he sought a second term as mayor, Ford was diagnosed in September 2014 with pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare and hard-to-treat cancer found in soft, fatty tissue of the body, after being admitted to a hospital with abdominal pain.
Ford had been moved into palliative care after his recent cancer treatment was unsuccessful, CP24 television reported on Monday. The aggressive form of cancer reoccurred despite surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy.
Ford came to city hall on the back of a populist wave to shake things up, appealing to conservative-leaning, working-class suburban residents. After losing the mayorship, Ford was elected by a landslide to a city council seat after leaving city hall.
The ex-mayor grew up in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, dropping out of university after a year and working at the family business. Ford is survived by his wife Renata and two children, Stephanie and Doug.
jh/msh (Reuters, dpa, AP)