Whoever claims politicians are boring has obviously never heard of Rob Ford. The former Toronto mayor burst onto the public scene with his extreme antics and divisive personality. Followed by a self-proclaimed history of drug use and seemingly endless scandals, Ford made for a fascinating—if tumultuous—mayor. People adored him for his honestly, reviled him for his excess, and couldn't turn away from the ongoing media coverage. But despite a personality that seemed unstoppable and a tenacity that even his opponents had to admire, there were some battles Ford just couldn't win.
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) March 8, 2016
In 2014, Ford was gearing up for his reelection campaign. It was going to be a sight to be seen, with all the pomp and circumstance that such an event deserved. But his plans were derailed when he was diagnosed with a rare—and extremely deadly—form of cancer. Pleomorphic liposarcoma is an extremely aggressive cancer and difficult to treat. Although Ford put his political aspirations on hold and focused on his treatment, it was an uphill battle from the start. 18 months after being diagnosed, Ford was dead at the age of 46. He leaves behind a wife, two young children, and a bizarre legacy no one will ever forget.
Perhaps most famous (or more correctly infamous) for his wild behavior, Ford rose to national attention when allegations emerged that he was abusing drugs and alcohol while in office—literally. Employees and colleagues reported him to be drunk and belligerent during public functions, and one high-level aide attested that he tried to smoke a joint while in his office. But the point that hammered the matter home was the allegation that Ford was using crack cocaine.
Questionable Life Choices
Naturally, Ford heatedly denied all these accusations, even as they dramatically mounted up: drug use, homophobic remarks, racism, heavy drinking, physical assault (he reportedly punched a friend in the face with a bag of burgers), drunk driving, and sexually explicit behavior. Getting caught on camera swearing in front of children was the least of his problems, when he had to contend with audio being leaked of him swearing to murder someone. Things were looking grim for the political future of the Mayor of Toronto. Then he took an unexpected angle on the whole problem. He admitted it.
Coming Clean (Sort Of)
Rather than continuing with the tried-and-true (and completely ineffective) stance that he had never done drugs, Ford was forced to change his tune when video surfaced that purported to show him smoking crack. He admitted that he had in fact tried crack cocaine, but denied being an addict. He also confirmed he would still run for another term despite these startling revelations. From there it was a media storm as reporters struggled to determine how much (or how little) Ford was really owning up to.
Then things got weird. Ford went on a media blitz, appearing on talk shows and rubbing elbows (and wrestling arms) with celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel and Hulk Hogan. Through it all Ford remained a consummate advocate for the city of Toronto, talking about his passion and love for the place he worked. He was an endless promoter for Toronto, much to the chagrin of some of his detractors and quite a few residents. But Ford pressed on, speaking movingly about his city and how much he cared for it with an intensity that even his opponents grudgingly admired.