This story is over 5 years old.


Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Has Died

Ford died of cancer at age 46 this morning.

Previous Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaving a press conference prior to a meeting at Ottawa City Hall in February 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has died. Ford, who was 46, had a rare form of cancer and spent the last few days in palliative care at Toronto's Mount Sinai hospital as his condition worsened. In a statement released Tuesday morning, his family said he had died. "With heavy hearts and profound sadness, the Ford family announces the passing of their beloved son, brother, husband, and father, Rob Ford," the statement says. "A dedicated man of the people, Councillor Ford spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto." Ford had two small children, Stephanie and Douglas, with his wife Renata. He is also survived by his mother Diane, brothers Doug and Randy, and his sister Kathy. After being diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma, a cancer that grows in soft connective tissues, in September 2014, Ford, who was incumbent mayor seeking reelection at the time, dropped out of the race. His older brother Doug Ford replaced him as the candidate but was defeated by John Tory. At the time of his death, Ford was serving as a councillor for Ward 2, Etobicoke North. Ford underwent surgery for his cancer last May, but doctors later discovered additional tumors on his bladder. On Thursday, he was admitted to Mount Sinai. Ford was mayor of Toronto from 2010–2014, during which time he drummed up much controversy, primarily due to his substance abuse issues. In May 2013, journalists at both Gawker and the Toronto Star revealed they had witnessed a cell phone video in which Ford appeared to be smoking from a crack pipe. The same footage reportedly showed Ford calling Justin Trudeau a "fag." Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair later told the public he had seen a video that corroborated the media reports. After months of being hounded by the media, and a mass exodus amongst his staffers, Ford admitted to having smoked crack cocaine. "Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine," he said at a scrum at City Hall. "Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors." But he claimed he wasn't an addict. The story made international headlines and landed Ford mentions and appearances on late-night American talk shows. Ford entered rehab in spring 2014, which he described as "amazing" in an interview with the Toronto Sun. Over the years, Ford had also been accused of public intoxication, drinking and driving, and associating with criminals, including Alexander "Sandro" Lisi, Ford's sometimes driver who was accused of extortion for trying to obtain the Ford crack video. Prior to becoming mayor, Ford was a Toronto city councillor, first elected to office in 2000. He primarily campaigned to stop the "gravy train" at City Hall and to respect taxpayers. He was known for returning his constituents phone calls. Ford's father, Doug Ford Sr., was an Ontario Conservative and businessman who founded Deco Labels & Tags Limited; the company made the family multimillionaires. Despite being a highly controversial figure, tributes were pouring in for Ford on Tuesday, and flags on official city poles in Toronto were flying at half mast. "He rehabilitated himself only to face this. It just doesn't feel fair," said Toronto Councillor Norm Kelly, while Mayor John Tory described Ford as, "above all else, a profoundly human guy whose presence in our city will be missed." Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, in a statement released this morning said Ford was a "tireless fighter for the taxpayer and a true advocate for the people he represented." In an op-ed published in Maclean's, Ford's former chief of staff Mark Towhey described Ford as "the best of mayors and the worst of mayors." He said hundreds of thousands of people loved the mayor, a "larger than life" figure, and at least as many hated him. "Those of us who worked closely with him will always wonder What could have been, if only? We'll never know. Like it or not, ready or not, we've got to let you go, buddy." The Ford family said it will not be taking questions from the media at this time, but details on a memorial service will follow.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.