Toronto. Thousands of people turned out on Wednesday (30/03) for the funeral of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, whose tumultuous four years as the leader of Canada's largest city included an admission that he smoked crack cocaine and a history of erratic behavior.
Supporters lined the streets of downtown Toronto to witness the funeral procession from city hall, where some 5,000 people had passed Ford's casket during a two-day public visitation, to the church where he was remembered for his populist appeal.
Ford died March 22 at age 46. At the time of his death, he was a city councilor and undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of cancer that recurred despite surgery and several rounds of chemotherapy.
While he gained global notoriety for his drug addiction, controversial public statements and a string of videos showing him behaving badly, supporters and political adversaries alike remembered him as a man with huge appeal among ordinary voters.
Ford, a Conservative, came to office in October 2010 on a groundswell of populist support despite his own wealthy beginnings. He has drawn comparisons to US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his frank and often offensive speech and his devoted following among those who felt left out of elite politics.
Thousands of supporters walked behind the hearse carrying Ford's casket through downtown Toronto, while others lined up at dawn in the hope of getting a seat in the cathedral where the funeral was to be held. Television screens were set up in tents outside so the overflow crowd could watch the service.
Ford, married and a father of two young children, was diagnosed with a rare and hard-to-treat cancer in September 2014. He then pulled out of a campaign for re-election as mayor and was elected a city councilor instead.
While he was mayor, he admitted to smoking crack cocaine, buying illegal drugs and driving after drinking alcohol. Ford refused calls to resign and instead checked into a rehabilitation clinic in May 2014 after admitting his alcohol use was out of control.
Ford already had been a city councilor when he was elected mayor of Toronto, winning 47 percent of the vote as his campaign to stop the waste at city hall and strong suburban support overcame Toronto's liberal downtown voters.
Ford once told Fox News that he hoped to run for prime minister one day.