Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has died, according to Ford’s chief of staff, Dan Jacobs. The 46-year-old Ford gained international notoriety after a video surfaced in May 2013 that apparently showed him using crack cocaine.
Ford served for a decade as a city councilor before being elected mayor in 2010.
He was a bombastic and larger-than-life personality who spoke bluntly — traits that helped him craft an image as a champion for the working class.
When running for mayor, he campaigned as an anti-politician who would cut the size of government and stand up to what he called “big-city elites.”
“Toronto’s government has grown bloated and wasteful,” he said in a campaign video. “It’s time to stop the gravy train that provides luxuries and perks to politicians and rich contracts to their friends.”
Ford had undergone 18 months of treatment for a rare cancer — leomorphic liposarcoma — that was initially diagnosed during his 2014 re-election bid, the Toronto Star reported. He underwent surgery that was followed by the discovery of two new tumors, according to the newspaper.
Ford’s time as mayor was plagued by scandal.
In May 2013 a video surfaced that appeared to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.
Ford denied any wrongdoing and ignored those calling for his resignation.
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine,” he said at a news conference.
But as more videos surfaced showing Ford in compromising circumstances, the scrutiny became more intense, and his relationship with the City Council became more acrimonious.
Months later, the admission finally came: He told reporters he “probably” smoked the drug at some point.
“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” he said. “Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors.”
Ford refused to step aside, even after the City Council stripped him of most of his powers.
Calls to step down and to go to rehab followed, all while Ford continued to campaign for re-election.
The situation unfolded like a piece of surreal, tragic comedy — and proved to be perfect fodder for late night TV and comedians around the world.
In April 2014, Ford announced he would be taking a break from his mayoral duties and his campaign to seek help for alcohol abuse.