Rob Ford dead: Controversial former mayor of Toronto dies of cancer aged 46

The former mayor and Toronto City councillor had been battling a rare form of cancer for 18 months 

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The Independent Online

Rob Ford, the former controversial mayor of Toronto, has died following a battle with a rare form of cancer.

The 46-year-old passed away at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, confirmed by a close family member as reported by The Globe and Mail.

He was diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare form of cancer that grows in the soft tissue of fat cells, in his abdomen.

He had the tumour removed in the spring of last year but in November 2015 the cancer reappeared in his bladder.

Mr Ford reportedly did not respond to the latest round of chemotherapy to shrink the second tumour.

Family members, including his wife Renata and their two children, surrounded the politician as he underwent palliative care at home and at hospital during an 18-month struggle.

Mr Ford's chief of staff Dan Jacobs posted a statement last week to confirm that Mr Ford was in hospital as his condition had taken a turn for the worse, and his family also set up a website called Get Well Rob Ford to share messages of support.

The politician, who climbed to the highest office without a college degree, received both ardent support and loathing for his policies which included slashing the budget and his very public voice on issues like mental health stigma.

Mr Ford, who became infamous for his drug abuse in 2013, was stripped of his mayoral powers. Despite becoming arguably the most infamous Mayor in the world, he won his old seat as councillor at the Toronto City Council last year.

But it had been a long road to win back public support. Three years ago he was caught using drugs, acting drunk in public and driving under the influence of alcohol. He vehemently denied the accusations - Gawker released a video of him smoking crack cocaine - but he eventually owned up to the incident and became a voice in the fight against drug abuse.

He had aimed to run for a second term at mayor, but in the autumn of 2014 he was first diagnosed with cancer.

His brother Doug Ford ran instead but was beaten to the post by John Tory, who the ex-mayor was known to repeatedly make jibes about.

Mayor Tory said in a statement on Tuesday that he was “saddened” to hear the news.

“He was a man who spoke his mind and who ran for office because of the deeply felt convictions that he had,” he wrote, praising his former rival's “gregarious nature and approach to public service”.

The Toronto Star wrote that Mr Ford cultivated his brand and took it “to the grave, intact”.

“Ford’s genius — crafted or naturally acquired — is that he connected with the average guy.

“Bumbling, stumbling, a bit off kilter, never well-dressed, rumpled, a bit awkward, politically incorrect, overweight, bumptious while shy, he represented the imperfections in all of us, even those of us who despised him for it.”

Messages of condolence flooded in on Twitter, including from fellow Toronto City councillor Norm Kelly.

The politician was also a prolific user of social media and had been tweeting about his councillor duties including road closures and fire alarms as late as 14 March.

He celebrated reaching more than 200,000 Twitter followers late last year.