Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who found himself at the center of a string of scandals that mixed politics, drugs and alcohol, has died after an 18-month battle with cancer, The Toronto Star reports. He was 46.
Ford was first diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare, aggressive type of cancer, in 2014 while seeking mayoral reelection. While he pulled out of that race, he ran instead for city council in Ward 2 Etobicoke North, which he represented for 10 years before becoming mayor in 2010.
Treatment, however, often kept Ford from work. Though an initial surgery to remove a malignant tumor seemed successful, two new tumors were later found, necessitating further chemotherapy. Recent attempts at finding a treatment through a personalized clinical trial proved unsuccessful as well.
Through it all, Ford — and many of his constituents — harbored hopes of another successful mayoral run in 2018. Despite the scandals, Ford remained a popular figure in Toronto, described by the Star as a “rumpled populist” who “built a profile on talk radio as a plain-spoken champion of the little guy, always eager to get a pothole fixed.”
Yet Ford will likely be best remembered by people outside Toronto for a wild series of scandals that erupted during his tenure as mayor. He was repeatedly dogged by accusations of public intoxication and inappropriate behavior — including around and towards staff and students at a high school whose football team he coached while in office. In 2012, Ford nearly lost his mayorship over a conflict of interest trial he later won on appeal.
News of his exploits, however, reached far beyond Canada in 2013 when various news outlets began reporting on a video that showed Ford smoking crack. While Ford first denied the video’s veracity, he later admitted to drug and alcohol abuse and entered rehab. During a hearing that effectively stripped Ford of all his powers, the mayor infamously tackled a female councilor.
After winning what would become his final election in 2014, Ford opened up to the Toronto Star about his exploits and legacy. “It will definitely be remembered, put it that way,” he said. “No one’s going to forget it. They’re 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 and so you can remember it for what you want.”