Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
The eccentric politician made headlines around the world for his erratic behavior before being diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
Rob Ford, the former mayor of Toronto, has died at the age of 46. He had been battling liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer, since 2014.
Ford, a city councillor at the time of his death, served as Toronto’s mayor from 2010 to 2014. Hailing from the suburb of Etobicoke, Ford rose to power as an eccentric voice for conservative suburbanites.
Soon after being elected mayor, Ford acted on his promise to “stop the gravy train” of government spending and end the so-called “war on cars.” He canceled Transit City, an ambitious, $8 billion (CAN) plan to bring light rail and bus rapid transit service the suburbs. He also removed transit workers’ right to strike, and partially privatized garbage collection. Ford made a spectacle out of saving taxpayers money, even taking to the radio once to apologize for City Hall spending too much on chairs.
The wider world came to know Ford starting in May 2013 after Gawker first reported the existence of a video showing him smoking crack. In the aftermath of that story, Ford’s public behavior became increasingly erratic. Despite the discovery of additional evidence of his substance abuse, he spent months denying the charges. Ford finally admitted that November that he had smoked crack but refused to step down as mayor, even after most of his powers were stripped by the City Council. A second video of him smoking crack emerged in April 2014. That same month, Ford entered rehab.
After a tumor was discovered in his stomach, Ford stopped his reelection campaign in September 2014, handing it over to his brother, Doug, while Rob ran for (and won) his former council seat instead. John Tory won the mayoral election and assumed office that December. Ford is survived by his wife, Renata Ford, and two children.