US & Canada

Profile: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford reacts to a video released of him by local media at City Hall in Toronto 7 November 2013

The embattled mayoral career of Rob Ford has come to an abrupt end just over a month before the day he hoped to win re-election.

In September, Mr Ford was diagnosed with an abdominal tumour which doctors describe as "fairly aggressive" and requiring chemotherapy.

He withdrew from the mayoral race, replaced by his brother Doug, but put his name on the ballot for his old constituency on the city council.

Rob Ford was first elected to lead Canada's most populous city in 2010 as an outsider, with strong backing from his suburban neighbourhood.

But by 2013 he faced heavy pressure to resign from both political opposition and former allies on the city council after admitting he smoked crack cocaine while severely inebriated.

The drugs confession is only one of the many episodes in a long saga of cringe-inducing behaviour from the mayor.

Mr Ford had previously refused to resign the job, mounting a re-election campaign against multiple challengers.

"Our family has been through everything - from murder to drugs to being successful in business," Mr Ford once told the Toronto Star. "Nobody can tell me a story that can shock."

Image caption Ford used his talk show to discuss city issues - and attack critics

Rob Ford was born in May 1969 in Etobicoke, Ontario, now a diverse district in the west of Toronto.

His father Doug Ford Sr was a businessman and member of Ontario's provincial parliament.

The elder Mr Ford ran the successful printing firm Deco Labels and Tags. The Ford family still owns the company, and Mr Ford has served in senior management positions there.

Mr Ford attended Carleton University but did not graduate, instead returning home to care for his sister, a recovering heroin addict, according to a profile in Toronto Life magazine profile. Years later, an ex-boyfriend would shoot his sister in the face in her parents' home.

In 2000, Mr Ford married his long-time girlfriend Renata. They have two young children. Rarely seen in public, she has been dubbed the "invisible wife".

Mr Ford was charged with assaulting her in 2008 but the charge was dropped.

Media captionToronto Mayor Rob Ford ordered the press to leave his property

After a previous attempt, Mr Ford was elected to represent Etobicoke in 2000 in the city council. In that role, he gained a reputation for controversial remarks and an aversion to spending city money.

He ran for mayor with a promise to "end the gravy train" at city hall and to partially privatise rubbish collection services after a month-long strike.

In 2010 he was elected mayor with 47% of the vote, largely on the strength of his support in the outlying suburbs. His brother Doug Ford Jr replaced him on the council as representative of Etobicoke.

The rubbish privatisation was deemed a success, and Mr Ford continued to look for ways to trim the city's budget.

Image caption Councillor Doug Ford (left) is the mayor's most steadfast political ally

Later, he became embroiled in a conflict of interest row after he was accused of using the city of Toronto logo and leveraging his status to solicit funds for his football foundation.

The city council tried to sack him, but in January 2013 a Canadian court overturned the removal order.

Media captionAfter his crack admission, another video emerged showing Ford ranting drunkenly and threatening murder

Also since becoming mayor, he has been caught reading while driving on a city expressway, and once called the police when a comedian tried to film part of a popular television programme outside his home.

In March 2013, the Toronto Star reported he had been asked to leave a military ball because its organisers thought he was inappropriately intoxicated. "It's an open secret at city hall that the mayor has battled alcohol abuse," the newspaper said.

Then, in May 2013 the Star and US gossip website Gawker reported their journalists had seen a video apparently showing Mr Ford smoking from a crack cocaine pipe while obviously intoxicated.

The Toronto mayor denied he was a crack user - but never denied using the drug in the past. Months later, police said they had gained possession of the video.

After the revelation, Mr Ford said he had "made mistakes" and said he would curb his drinking. Ultimately, he admitted to smoking crack cocaine, "probably in one of my drunken stupors".

And he dismissed calls to step down: "We must keep Toronto moving forward. I was elected to do a job and that's exactly what I'm going to continue doing."

The same week, another video of Mr Ford became public. The clip showed the Toronto mayor in a foul-mouthed rant during which he vows to rip out a unspecified person's throat.

The context of the clip is not clear, nor is the target of Mr Ford's wrath. He has said he was intoxicated when it was filmed and was "very embarrassed by it".

Media captionDoug Ford: "I'll continue to stand by my brother"

After the video was published, Mr Ford's mother and sister told a local television station his behaviour was unacceptable for a mayor, but said he had done good work for the city.

"It isn't like it has affected his work," said Mr Ford's sister, Kathy.

Asked whether she thought her brother was an alcoholic, she responded, "It depends on what you consider an alcoholic."

In April 2014, Mr Ford officially kicked off his re-election campaign. He had four challengers in the 27 October election.

But other recordings of Mr Ford in an apparently intoxicated state surfaced, including in a new audio recording of him making abusive comments about Councillor Karen Stintz, who is running for mayor, and other politicians.

Allegations have also surfaced in police documents that Mr Ford threatened a fellow high-school football coach, used racially abusive language, threatened staff, sexually propositioned a female colleague, and snorted cocaine in a restaurant. The mayor has denied all of it.

In May, the mayor sought treatment for substance abuse, returning to city hall the following month.

Mr Ford said the experience saved his life and he continued his re-election campaign, appearing in several debates. Recent polling suggested he was in second place in the five-person election.

But in September, the Toronto mayor was admitted to hospital after pain in his abdomen became "unbearable". Several days later, Mr Ford dropped out of the mayoral race, with his brother replacing him on the ballot.

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