Rob Ford Biography

Mayor, Government Official (1969–2016)
Rob Ford was elected as Toronto's mayor in 2010 but was stripped of his official powers in 2013 due to ongoing scandals and drug use.


Born on May 28, 1969, in Etobicoke, Toronto, Canada, Rob Ford headed into the political arena in 2000 as the councilman for his local ward. Despite ongoing incidents involving inebriation, Ford was elected Toronto's mayor in October 2010 with support from the area's outer suburbs. His true undoing began in 2013, when reports surfaced that Ford had been secretly recorded smoking crack cocaine. That scandal, among others, eventually led to Ford being stripped of his mayoral powers and taking a leave of absence. He finished a two-month stint in rehab but was later diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He died on March 22, 2016, at the age of 46. 

Family Background

Rob Ford was born in Etobicoke, Toronto, Canada, on May 28, 1969. He attended Ottawa’s Carleton University and York University’s Atkinson College, although he didn’t graduate from either. Ford’s father Doug Sr., who was born into severe poverty, became a parliamentarian and successful businessman who was seen as a commanding patriarchal figure in the family. 

Rob Ford himself served as a principal of the family business, Deco Labels and Tags. He wed Renata Brejniak in 2000, with the two having met in high school. The couple went on to have two children.

Politics and Scandal

Ford first got into politics in the year 2000, when he ran for and won the councilor race in the municipality of Etobicoke North (Ward 2). He served in this role for 10 years, but the scandals that would plague Ford’s later political career began to appear in 2006, when he was ejected from a Maple Leafs hockey game for drunken, belligerent behavior. Ford claimed that he had not attended the game but later admitted to being there intoxicated. The event would mark a running trait of Ford’s entanglements.

His tenure as city councilman was rounded out by being charged with assaulting his wife and making threats against her (charges were later dropped) and being recorded telling a constituent that he would try to find him OxyContin pills.

Mayor of Toronto

Somehow able to overcome previous scandals, Ford’s 2010 run for Toronto mayor was almost derailed when a DUI from a decade earlier came to light. Following his pattern of deflection, Ford had lied about the incident. Nonetheless, Ford was elected the 64th mayor of Toronto in October 2010, with major support from the city's outer suburbs. With a small-government ideology, Ford's term was marked by the elimination of a $60 vehicle registration tax, the positioning of the TTC (the city's subway) as a key service to prevent labor strikes and cuts in streetcar and bus routes.

By Christmas 2011, Ford was headed off the rails again, this time evidenced by a call his mother-in-law made to the police saying that the mayor was intoxicated and taking his children to Florida against the wishes of his wife. 

Downfall and Rehab

The following year, Ford was secretly recorded smoking crack, and in May 2013 an array of media reports came out with the story, with police and prosecutors, among others in the legal arena, having viewed the video clip. Ford at first denied smoking crack but later admitted to using the drug. Despite his admission, the elected official refused to step down from his position. The city council then stripped him of his mayoral powers in a November meeting, during which time he started heckling the crowd and pushed over council member Pam McConnell.

"Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.... Am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Um, probably in one of my drunken stupors." -- Rob Ford

Ford, also known for sexist, homophobic and racist remarks, was the subject of another damning video that emerged in late April 2014. He immediately took a leave of absence to seek professional help. By May, Ford allegedly tried to get into the United States but was turned away. He then entered GreeneStone, a rehab facility in Bala, Ontario, where he spent the next two months. Begging forgiveness and claiming responsibility for his past indiscretions, Ford entered the race for Toronto’s October mayoral elections, despite ongoing calls for his resignation. 

Cancer Diagnosis

In September 2014, Ford was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor. He later withdrew from the mayoral race but opted to run for a council seat instead—and won. Since his diagnosis, Ford had been treated for pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer. In May 2015, he underwent a 10-hour surgery to remove the tumor. But in October of the same year, additional tumors were found on Ford's bladder. 

In mid-March 2016, his office issued a statement saying that Ford was in Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto with his family beside him. Rob Ford died on March 22, 2016, at the age of 46. 

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