TORONTO – Rob Ford, one of Toronto’s most prolific and polarizing mayors and councillors, has died at the age of 46.
Ford was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital Tuesday morning after battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer called pleomorphic liposarcoma since 2014.
“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,” his family said in a release.
According to family, Ford was recovering after becoming “very weak” from previous treatment and was under 24-hour medical watch before his death.
“The family asks that you respect their privacy and join them in their grieving and their prayers,” the release states.
Rumours of his deteriorating condition caused many to report his passing early on social media in mid-March, but his office was quick to maintain in a statement that Ford was still alive and fighting with family by his side.
Toronto Mayor John Tory quickly made a statement about his former political adversary.
“The City is reeling with this news, and my thoughts are with his wife Renata and their two children, as well as Rob’s brothers Doug and Randy, his sister Kathy, his mother, Diane, and the rest of their tight-knit family, including TDSB Trustee Michael Ford,” Tory said. “I have known Rob Ford for many years. He was a man who spoke his mind and who ran for office because of the deeply felt convictions that he had. As a councillor, mayor and private citizen, Rob Ford reached out directly to people across the city with a phone call, an offer of advice or support, and I know there are many who were affected by his gregarious nature and approach to public service.
“His time in City Hall included moments of kindness, of generosity to his council colleagues and real efforts to do what he thought was best for Toronto. He was, above all else, a profoundly human guy whose presence in our city will be missed.”
Rob Ford had a passion for people and politics. I'm saddened by his tragic passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. #RIPRobFord
— Norm Kelly (@norm) March 22, 2016
Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose has issued a statement, saying she is saddened to learn of Ford’s passing.
“Rob Ford was a tireless fighter for the taxpayer and a true advocate for the people he represented. His goal was to serve the people of Toronto the best way he knew how. He was well known for personally engaging with constituents and trying to solve the many problems they face on a daily basis. Despite the challenges he fought and the controversies he faced, it is my sincere hope that Canadians will remember Rob Ford for his enduring love for his community and country, and his dedication to his constituents,” says Ambrose.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has extended her condolences to the Ford family on Twitter:
Saddened to learn that former Toronto mayor Rob Ford has passed away. My thoughts & prayers are with Rob's friends, family & colleagues.
— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) March 22, 2016
Ford, a Etobicoke-native, has been a staple in Toronto politics since 2000.
Serving as councilor of Ward 2-Etobicoke North from 2000 to 2010, Ford established himself as a charismatic powerhouse with a catchy one-line slogans like “stopping the gravy train,” “respect for taxpayers” and who could forget “subway, subway, subway.”
After serving a decade as councillor, Ford was sworn in as the city’s 64th mayor and represented Toronto on an international scale for four years.
He was caught up in a whirlwind of controversy during his terms as councilor and mayor, but the most memorable is the crack scandal. In his last year as mayor, reports of a video of the former mayor smoking crack cocaine surfaced. Ford vehemently denied the allegations for months but after a year of investigation by local media and police, Ford admitted his crack use was real. The news was blasted all over Canadian and American media, and earned the former mayor an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel.
Despite all this — Rob refused to step down as mayor. Ford took a leave of absence and entered rehab instead until June 2014.
But before all the publicity, Ford was simply the youngest son of Deco Labels and Tags founder Doug Ford Sr. and had dreams of becoming a pro-football player. Ford returned to Etobicoke after a brief move to Ottawa, married his high-school sweetheart Renata and has never left since.