Robert Bruce Ford (May 28, 1969 – March 22, 2016) was a Canadian politician and businessman who served as the 64th mayor of Toronto from 2010 to 2014. Before and after his term as mayor, Ford was a city councillor representing Ward 2 Etobicoke North. He was first elected to Toronto City Council in the 2000 Toronto municipal election, and was re-elected to his council seat twice.
His political career, particularly his mayoralty, saw a number of personal and work-related controversies and legal proceedings. In 2013, he became embroiled in a substance abuse scandal, which was widely reported in national and foreign media. Following his admission, Ford refused to resign, but city council voted to hand over certain mayoral powers and office staff to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly for the remainder of Ford’s term.
Ford took a sabbatical and received treatment for his alcohol and drug addiction. Despite the scandal, Ford initially contested the next mayoral election, scheduled for October 2014, but after being hospitalized and diagnosed with an abdominal tumour in September 2014, Ford withdrew from the mayoral race and registered instead to run for his old city council seat. John Tory succeeded him as mayor on December 1, 2014, while Ford regained his former seat. Ford received treatment for the cancer, and was able to return briefly to council, but died in March 2016 after chemotherapy was ineffective.
Ford suffered from alcohol and drug addiction for many years. After the death of his father in 2006, Ford’s abuse grew and led to public episodes of intoxication, followed by public denials. His episodes were symptomatic of alcohol and drug addiction. His episodes were reported in the media widely and attracted much condemnation. Ford’s abuse led to him being stripped of much of his powers as Toronto mayor and he later entered drug rehabilitation.
On April 15, 2006, Ford attended a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game at the Air Canada Centre. According to a couple nearby, Ford was intoxicated, using profanity, and insulting people. The couple then sent a detailed complaint to the City of Toronto. When confronted about the episode three days later by a National Post reporter, Ford initially denied having been at the game, but later admitted it. “I’m going through a few personal problems, but it doesn’t justify, you know, getting drunk in public and pretty well acting like an idiot if you ask me.”
The death of Rob Ford’s father, Doug Ford Sr., in September 2006 due to cancer has been pinpointed as the time period when Ford transitioned to crack cocaine in addition to alcohol. A convicted heroin dealer who used to supply Ford’s sister Kathy recalled a party with Ford around that time. According to reporter Robyn Doolittle, Ford would come home at night and drink heavily, use hard drugs or prescription pills.