Controversial former Toronto mayor dies

  • 23/03/2016
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford kisses his daughter during his first appearance since being released from the hospital where he was undergoing cancer treatment (Reuters)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford kisses his daughter during his first appearance since being released from the hospital where he was undergoing cancer treatment (Reuters)

By Andrea Hopkins and Matt Scuffham

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, whose tumultuous four years as leader of Canada's largest city included an admission of smoking crack and erratic behaviour, has died after struggling with cancer.

Ford, 46, who was serving as a Toronto city councillor, had been undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of cancer that had recurred despite surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy.

His death was announced by his office on Tuesday.

Ford, married and a father of two small children, was diagnosed with a rare and hard-to-treat cancer in September 2014 after being hospitalised with abdominal pain.

He was in the middle of a campaign for re-election to mayor when the cancer was found.

He withdrew from that race and was elected as a city councillor instead.

The cancer diagnosis came after Ford had become international news for his outlandish behaviour.

During his mayoral term, he admitted to smoking crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs and driving after drinking alcohol.

Multiple videos surfaced of him drunk and behaving erratically, spewing profanities and racial slurs or threatening violence.

Still, Ford refused calls to resign and checked into a rehabilitation clinic in May 2014 after admitting his alcohol use was out of control.

He emerged two months later appearing healthier but still obese and saying he regretted not trying rehab years earlier.

Ford suffered from malignant liposarcoma, a cancer that arises in fat cells in soft tissues, with a large aggressive tumour in his abdomen and a smaller one in his buttock.

In October 2015, another tumour was found on his bladder, and he began a new round of chemotherapy.

Ford already had served as a city councillor when he was elected mayor of Toronto in October 2010, winning 47 per cent of the vote as his campaign to stop the waste at city hall and strong suburban support overcame Toronto's liberal downtown voters.

Ford once told Fox News that he hoped to run for prime minister one day.

AAP