Wednesday, March 23, 2016 7:08 am
Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who became controversially known for his cocaine and alcohol abuse while in office, has died after battling cancer for years, his office confirmed Tuesday.
The 46-year-old sitting Toronto city councillor had been undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of cancer that had recurred despite surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy.
In a statement confirming Ford’s death, his chief of staff Dan Jacobs said that “over his decade and a half in municipal politics, Ford won a devoted following for being a straight talker who championed the average taxpayer.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences. John Tory, who replaced Ford as mayor, called Ford “a man who spoke his mind and who ran for office because of the deeply felt convictions that he had.”
During his tumultuous 2010-2014 tenure as mayor of Canada’s most populous city, Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs and driving after drinking alcohol.
Ford dropped out of the re-election campaign in September 2014 when he was diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer found in soft, fatty tissue of the body, after he was admitted to a hospital with abdominal pain.
Ford was equally defined by his apparent contradictions: a millionaire with a working-class attitude; a cost-cutting crusader who promoted subway expansion over less expensive transit solutions; and a man who while serving as mayor often seemed more interested in coaching high school football.
It was a testament to his common touch that even as Ford faced a growing number of controversies related to drug use, public drunkenness and racist and sexist comments, many voters in the so-called “Ford Nation” continued to stand by him.
“I have made mistakes and all I can do right now is apologize for those mistakes,” Ford said at a news conference in June 2014, after a two-month stint in rehab.