Family says former Toronto mayor Rob Ford has died of cancer

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford speaks during the kick off of his re-election campaign at a rally in the city's north end April 17, 2014. Ford, who made worldwide headlines last year after admitting binge drinking and smoking crack, has been stripped of most of his powers. AFP PHOTO / GEOFF ROBINS (Photo credit should read GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

TORONTO (March 22, 2016) — Rob Ford, the  populist former Toronto mayor whose career crashed in a drug-driven, obscenity-laced debacle, died Tuesday after fighting cancer, his family says. He was 46.

Ford rode into office on a backlash against urban elites. He cast an image sharply at odds with Canada’s reputation for sedate, unpretentious politics.

But his tenure as mayor of the country’s largest city was marred by revelations about his drinking problems and illegal drug use. He was repeatedly videotaped and photographed while intoxicated in public.

His statements and actions became nightly fodder for TV comedians and an embarrassment to many of the suburbanites he championed.

Nevertheless, he was later elected by a landslide to a city council seat.