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Timeline: Key dates in the life of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford

Last Updated Mar 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm EST

Rob Ford speaks to supporters after winning his seat on city council at mayoral candidate Doug Ford's election night headquarters in Toronto on Monday, October 27, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

A look at some significant dates in the life of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who died Tuesday of cancer. He was 46.

May 28, 1969: Robert Bruce Ford is born in Toronto. He is the fourth and youngest child of Deco Labels co-founder Doug Ford and his wife, Diane.

1983: Ford begins high school at Scarlett Heights Collegiate in the west-end neighbourhood of Etobicoke, beginning his freshman year while his elder brother Doug was in his final one. Rob Ford went on to play high school football, a lifelong passion.

1989: Ford begins studying political science at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

June 8, 1995: Ford’s father, Doug Sr., is elected to the Ontario legislature as a Conservative. He serves as a backbencher in the government of premier Mike Harris, but earns a reputation as a loyal and outspoken party member.


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Nov. 10, 1997: Rob Ford makes a run for Toronto city council, but comes in fourth place.

Feb. 15, 1999: Ford is charged with drunk driving and possession of marijuana in Miami. Though the drug possession charge was later dropped, both would surface more than a decade later as controversies during his eventual mayoral campaign.

Aug. 12, 2000: Ford marries high school classmate, Renata Brejniak.

Nov. 13: Ford is elected to his first term on Toronto city council.

Mayor Rob Ford laughs with fans as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto, Nov. 17, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Mayor Rob Ford laughs with fans as he attends the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL Eastern Conference final football game in Toronto, Nov. 17, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette.

 

March 6, 2002: Fellow city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti accuses Ford of calling him a “Gino boy.” Some councillors claim to have overheard the exchange, but Ford denies saying it.

2002: Ford begins coaching high school football at Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School.

Nov. 10 2003: Ford is re-elected to Toronto city council with 79 per cent of the vote.

2005: Ford’s first child, a daughter named Stephanie, is born.

April 15, 2006: An intoxicated Ford sparks complaints from a couple at a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game who said their night out was ruined by a man shouting and swearing. Ford initially denied being at the game, but then later retracted the denial. The Toronto Star reported Ford said he had too much to drink before going to the game, and that he originally denied he was there because he was embarrassed and humiliated by the situation.

June 28, 2006: During a council debate, Ford claims that people won’t get AIDS, “probably,” if they’re “not doing needles” and “not gay.” The remarks were recorded in a National Post transcript and were later raised by Ford’s 2010 mayoral rivals as evidence of his character. In May 2010, the Toronto Star reported that Ford – in reference to the comment from years earlier – told an HIV-positive gay man: “I apologize if I offended you or your husband in any way.”

Sept. 22, 2006: Doug Ford Sr. dies of cancer.

Nov. 13, 2006: Ford is re-elected to Toronto city council, this time with 66 per cent of the vote.

March 5, 2008: Ford raises eyebrows during a council debate on whether to allow stores to open on holidays when he praised the work ethic of “Oriental people” who “work like dogs.”

March 26, 2008: Ford is charged with uttering death threats against his wife. The charge is later dropped.

2008: Rob and Renata Ford welcome their second child, a son named Douglas.

July 2009: Ford has his appendix removed due to appendicitis; the resulting inflammation required a piece of the nearby colon to be removed. This information was revealed by the head of Ford’s treatment team in 2014 when he was diagnosed with cancer.

March 25, 2010: Ford announces his candidacy for mayor and is widely dismissed as a long shot.

Oct. 25, 2010: Ford is elected as mayor with just over 47 per cent of the vote, riding a wave of populist support built on his promise to end the “gravy train” and cut government waste. His elder brother Doug succeeds him as a city councillor and becomes his frequent defender and champion both in and out of city hall.

Rob Ford at Ford Fest in 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS.
Rob Ford at Ford Fest in 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS.

 

Dec. 1, 2010: Ford says he has scrapped “Transit City,” a proposal to bolster Toronto’s aging public transit system, a key accomplishment of the previous mayoral administration. Ford proposes to build subways instead of the light rail projects favoured in the original plan.

Dec. 16, 2010: In Ford’s first council meeting, he succeeds in delivering on two of his major campaign promises when council votes to scrap a vehicle registration tax and reduce office budgets for all city councillors to $30,000 from $51,300. The vehicle tax, which saw car-owners pay an annual fee of $60 per passenger vehicle, was said to bring in an estimated $64 million in revenue per year, but Ford had campaigned on a promise to abolish the unpopular levy.

February 2011: Ford returns to hospital with a kidney stone.

June 2011: Ford angers the city’s gay community by declining to attend either the city’s gay pride parade or the flag-raising ceremony to kick off Pride week. Ford says he would be at the family cottage during the parade. His decision breaks with tradition that saw the city’s three previous mayors march in the parade.

Oct. 25, 2011: Ford makes numerous calls to 911 after being confronted by a crew from the CBC comedy show “This Hour Has 22 Minutes.” Ford says he felt threatened by the presence of the crew and alleges they scared his daughter.

Jan. 17, 2012: City council begins the first in a series of votes against Ford’s agenda by defeating a major package of substantial budget cuts.

Feb. 5, 2012: Tentative deal reached between City of Toronto and one of its major unions, averting a strike by about 6,000 city workers.

Feb. 9, 2012: In a rebellion led by Ford’s appointed transit chair, council votes to return to a light-rail-based transit plan and abandon Ford’s subway proposals. Ford later dismisses the council defeat as “irrelevant.”

March 12, 2012: Toronto resident Paul Magder launches a lawsuit alleging Ford had a conflict of interest when he voted on a council matter involving his football charity.

March 17, 2012: According to internal security reports and multiple accounts published in local media, Ford begins partying at city hall before moving onto a local bar. Police documents contain interviews with witnesses who claim Ford became violent towards staff members, made lewd remarks and proceeded to drive while intoxicated.

May 2, 2012: Ford calls police after a confrontation with Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale. Ford alleges Dale was spying on him at his home, while Dale contends he was on public property doing research for a story. Dale alleges he was physically threatened by the mayor, a claim Ford denies.

August 2012: Ford is hospitalized with throat and stomach problems.

Nov. 26, 2012: A judge rules on the Magder lawsuit by concluding that Ford violated the Municipal Code of Conduct and must be removed from office. Ford announces he will appeal the verdict.

Jan. 25, 2013: Ford wins his appeal and is allowed to remain as mayor.

March 8, 2013: Ford vehemently denies allegations from former mayoral rival Sarah Thomson that he touched her inappropriately (“he grabbed my ass”) at a political event.

March 26, 2013: Ford denies a published report that he was asked to leave an event the previous month celebrating the Canadian Forces because organizers were concerned he was impaired. Ford describes the Toronto Star story as an “outright lie.”

May 16, 2013: Reports surface in both the Toronto Star and U.S.-based news site Gawker that Ford was seen on video smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine. The Toronto Star also reports that Ford can be heard using a homophobic slur in reference to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. The video cannot be independently verified. In the aftermath of the reports, Ford’s lawyer says it is impossible to tell what a person is smoking by watching the video. Ford says later that month: “I do not use crack cocaine.”

Mayor Rob Ford says he won’t be touching alcohol

 

May. 22, 2013: Ford is dropped as volunteer coach of the Don Bosco Eagles football team, with the Toronto District Catholic School Board saying only that it decided to pursue a “different direction” with a new volunteer.

Oct. 1, 2013: Ford’s friend and occasional driver, Alexander Lisi, is arrested and charged with four drug-related offences, including trafficking marijuana. Ford defends Lisi the next day, calling him a friend and a “good guy.”

Oct. 31, 2013: Chief Bill Blair announces Toronto police had recovered a copy of a video file that contains images of Ford “consistent with those previously reported in the press.” Blair refused to give details but said there was nothing in the video that would support the laying of a criminal charge. He said that as a result of discovering the video, Lisi was facing an additional charge of extortion.

Nov. 3, 2013: Ford apologizes on his weekly radio show on Newstalk 1010 for making mistakes, including appearing in public while “hammered” and texting while driving. But he tells AM640 the next day: “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m not a drug addict.”

Nov. 5, 2013: Ford admits he smoked crack cocaine about a year earlier while in one of his “drunken stupors.” He denies he is an addict. He adds he does not recall there being any video and wasn’t lying when he suggested the video didn’t exist because reporters had not asked the right question.

Mayor Rob Ford confronts councillors at city hall in Toronto on Nov. 13, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Mayor Rob Ford confronts councillors at city hall in Toronto on Nov. 13, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette.

 

Nov. 7, 2013: A video is posted online by the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun that shows Ford using obscenities and threatening words, including “kill” and “murder.” The mayor tells reporters moments after the video is posted that he was “extremely” drunk and is “extremely” embarrassed.

Nov. 8, 2013: NewsTalk 1010 announces Mayor Rob Ford and his brother will no longer be appearing on their regular weekly radio show.

Nov. 13, 2013: Newly released segments of a court document show former mayoralty staffers told police Ford was intoxicated at work, drank while driving and associated with suspected prostitutes. The release came shortly after city council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion urging Ford to take a leave of absence and just hours after he admitted buying illegal drugs while in office.

Nov. 14, 2013: Ford spouts an obscenity on live TV while denying allegations in the court document that he told a female aide he was going to have oral sex with her (“I’ve got more than enough to eat at home.”) He later apologized and said he was getting professional help. City councillors called for him to resign. Ford refused to do so, and the province’s premier said she would step in only if council said it could no longer function.

Mayor Rob Ford talks to reporters at city hall in Toronto on Nov. 14, 2013, as his wife Renata looks on. CITYNEWS.
Mayor Rob Ford talks to reporters at city hall in Toronto on Nov. 14, 2013, as his wife Renata looks on. CITYNEWS.

 

Nov. 15, 2013: Toronto city council overwhelmingly passes two motions that would reduce Ford’s powers. He says the motions set a dangerous precedent and that council left him with no choice but to begin costly legal action to try to overturn the decisions.

Nov. 18, 2013: City council votes by a wide margin to slash Ford’s mayoral budget and hand many of his duties to the deputy mayor. Ford called it a “coup d’etat” and vowed it would be war in the October 2014 municipal election.

Jan. 21, 2014: After recently saying he had given up alcohol, Ford admits he had been drinking the previous night after a video emerged on YouTube of him in a rambling, profane rant using Jamaican patois. Ford says he had been on personal time at a west-end Toronto restaurant and did not think the language he used was offensive.

March 3, 2014: Ford makes a highly anticipated appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” with the host introducing him by saying: “Our first guest tonight has tripped, bumped, danced, argued and smoked his way into our national consciousness.” Ford told Kimmel he wasn’t elected to be perfect but to clean up the financial mess at city hall.

April 30, 2014: Ford’s lawyer announces the Toronto mayor will take a leave of absence to seek help for substance abuse at a rehab clinic. The announcement comes just hours after the Globe and Mail reported that a drug dealer had shown two of its reporters a new video of Ford allegedly smoking what a self-professed drug dealer described as crack cocaine. The Globe said it could not confirm the substance inside the pipe.

June 30, 2014: Ford returns from rehab to resume his limited duties as mayor, saying that seeking treatment for substance abuse was a life-saving decision. He also promises his commitment to “living clean is unwavering.”

Sept. 10, 2014: Ford is admitted to hospital after complaining for months of abdominal pain. Doctors discover a tumour, and a biopsy is performed the next day, after he’s transferred to the downtown Toronto Mount Sinai Hospital.

Sept. 12, 2014: Citing his health, Ford withdraws from the mayoral race just ahead of an official deadline to do so. Instead he files papers to run again for council in his former suburban Toronto ward.

Sept. 17, 2014: Dr. Zane Cohen of Mount Sinai Hospital tells a news conference that Ford has been diagnosed with malignant liposarcoma, which arises in soft tissue structures and makes up about one per cent of cancers. He says Ford will undergo two rounds of chemotherapy treatment over the next 40 days. The mayor’s brother, Doug Ford, says the diagnosis has been “devastating” but that Rob Ford “remains upbeat and determined to fight this.”

Oct. 27, 2014: John Tory is elected mayor of Toronto. Ford says his family is not ready to abandon their mayoral ambitions. “I guarantee, in four more years, you’re going to see another example of the Ford family never, ever, ever giving up,” a wan-looking Ford tells cheering supporters.

March 24, 2015: A hearing into drug charges against Alexander Lisi begins.

March 25, 2015: Ford, now a city councillor, says he’s tentatively scheduled to have surgery to remove his cancerous tumour in May since the growth had shrunk enough to allow the procedure.

March 31, 2015: Ford apologizes for using racial slurs while he was mayor during a city council meeting. The apology came a week after the city’s integrity commissioner released a report saying Ford violated council’s code of conduct and called on him to apologize in front of his fellow councillors.

May 8, 2015: Lisi is found not guilty on drug-related charges. Lisi still faces separate charges of extortion related to trying to retrieve the infamous Ford “crack video.”

May 11, 2015: Ford undergoes surgery to remove the cancerous tumour from his abdomen. Doctors remove the “main mass” of the growth.

Rob Ford at Mt. Sinai Hospital on May 11, 2015. DAN JACOBS.
Rob Ford at Mt. Sinai Hospital on May 11, 2015. DAN JACOBS.

 

Oct. 17, 2015: Former prime minister Stephen Harper, in the dying days of the federal election campaign, appears with the Ford at a campaign rally in Etobicoke. A photo of Harper, who lost to Justin Trudeau two days later, posing with the Ford family became a social media sensation and the subject of political ridicule.

Oct. 29, 2015: A tearful Ford vows to fight for his life after saying another tumour doctors discovered, this one on his bladder, is cancerous.

March 3, 2016: Ford returns to hospital to continue his cancer treatment. His brother, Doug Ford, says he was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital at the end of February for another scheduled round of chemotherapy.

March 22, 2016: Ford dies.