Toronto's colorful former mayor Rob Ford dies of cancer

Updated: 2016-03-23 10:11


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Toronto's colorful former mayor Rob Ford dies of cancer

Then Toronto Mayor Rob Ford poses with members of the public as he takes part in the East York Canada Day Parade in his first public appearance since returning from a rehabilitation clinic for substance abuse problems in Toronto in this July 1, 2014 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

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Ford was equally defined by his apparent contradictions: a millionaire with a working-class attitude; a cost-cutting crusader who promoted subway expansion over less expensive transit solutions; and a man who while serving as mayor often seemed more interested in coaching high school football.

It was a testament to his common touch that even as Ford faced a growing number of controversies related to drug use, public drunkenness and racist and sexist comments, many voters in the so-called "Ford Nation" continued to stand by him.

"I have made mistakes and all I can do right now is apologize for those mistakes," Ford said at a news conference in June 2014, after a two-month stint in rehab.

Ford was elected councillor of Ward 2 Etobicoke North, a suburb in Toronto's west end, in 2000, and gained a reputation as a brash populist and cost-cutting crusader.

Ford was so committed to addressing the concerns of his constituents that he made an effort to return every phone call personally, even going so far as to give out his home number.

While his candid talk led to clashes with some of his fellow councillors, Ford gained a following for trying to reduce bureaucratic waste and show "respect for the taxpayers."