The memorial for former mayor Rob Ford is being held today at St. James Cathedral.
Ford’s body laid in repose at city hall for two days to give the public an opportunity to pay their final respects.
“As difficult as it is to say goodbye, (the Ford family) would like to do so in the same manner in which he lived his life, by sharing it with the people,” said Dan Jacobs, Ford’s former chief of staff, in a statement.
The same statement described him as “a dedicated man of the people”. Many people saw him as politician who never stopped fighting for the ‘little guy’.
Ford was elected as mayor in 2010, beating George Smitherman with just over 47 per cent of the vote.
Norm Kelly, Ford’s former deputy mayor, said even though he was notified about Ford’s depleting health, he was still taken aback when he received the news of Ford’s death.
“I felt so sad when I received the call because I think I and everyone else at council were pulling for him,” Kelly said. “We wanted him to beat cancer and we wanted him to come back, and to realize that wasn’t going to happen was depressing.”
Ford was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, pleomorphic liposarcoma, in late 2014. He underwent surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in May 2015, with what was then considered his last chance to survive the disease.
“I’m just lucky to be alive today, and I’m just lucky to get another chance at life,” said Ford to reporters after discovering his tumour had shrunk enough from chemotherapy treatment to allow surgery.
Though the surgery was considered a success, two more tumours were discovered on his bladder months later and treatment ceased to work.
Ford’s health worsened and on March 3 he was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital. Nineteen days later Ford died of his cancer.
Though Ford fulfilled many of his promises as mayor, such as winning his proposal to extend the subway in the east end and reducing the councillors’ budget, many don’t view him as a success.
“By any measure, Rob Ford was a failed mayor. This is sad because he had a remarkable touch as a politician,” said Patrice Dutil, a politics and public administration professor at Ryerson University.
Dutil said Ford’s lack of knowledge about city government made him unprepared for power and his mantra to “cut taxes, cut services” was nothing more than a slogan.
Ford launched his re-election campaign in April 2014, but stepped out of the race due to his health. His brother, Doug Ford, entered the race in his place.
Doug Ford lost the mayoral race to John Tory in late 2014 and Rob Ford was elected by a landslide to take back his old role as city councilor for Ward 2.
Ford was mayor of Toronto from 2010-14 and though he will be remembered for both positive and negative reasons, it is safe to say Toronto will not be the same without him.
“Whether you were a strong supporter, a fierce opponent, or indifferent, you still wanted him to have that second chance for himself personally, for his family, and for his career and his supporters. And it just didn’t seem fair that that second chance was snuffed out so unexpectedly,” Kelly said.