Scores pay city hall respects to Rob Ford
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Mar 29, 2016  |  Vote 30    6

Scores pay city hall respects to Rob Ford

TORONTO — Rob Ford lay in repose Monday at the city hall he dominated for years as mourners filed past his casket to pay their respects, the subdued mood on a dreary day a far cry from the wilder scenes that characterized his scandal-plagued mayoralty.

Mayor John Tory, who gave permission for Ford to lie in repose, was first to pause quietly at his predecessor's casket, then shake hands with relatives, among them Ford's brother Doug, mother, wife and two children.

The mourners, some with children in tow, included former high school football players Ford once coached.

"Everything that the media put on him was always so bad that no one ever got to see the good that he did for us as football players, as students, as a mentor," said Andre Laporte.

"He left all the political stuff at the office and focused on football when he came to the field."

Some touched or kissed the casket, draped in the city's blue-and-white flag emblazoned with a red Maple Leaf. Some quietly shed tears. Some crossed themselves.

Ford's death last week earned international headlines in light of his admitted crack cocaine use, alcohol abuse, lewd comments and at times outrageous behaviour that transformed his office into an unprecedented political and celebrity spectacle.

The loved-or-loathed politician brazened through the often lurid headlines for reasons other than his purported taxpayer-friendly policies. But much of the mayhem seemed forgotten Monday.

In its place was a dignified affair, as Ford was granted a rare honour not provided to a former mayor since Donald Summerville, 48, died of a heart attack in 1963 after a charity hockey game in which he played goalie against city hall's press gallery.

Jack Layton, one-time federal NDP leader and longtime Toronto city councillor, also lay in repose at city hall in 2011.

A city spokeswoman said Ford's family asked that his body be allowed to lie in repose and Tory gave his blessing.

Also on hand Monday was George Smitherman, the odds-on favourite to win the mayoralty in 2010 but who nevertheless was trounced by Ford. Smitherman said he expected only tributes now for the former mayor.

"There will be a strong outpouring of love, which is appropriate for a politician who managed the rare feat of being open enough to generate genuine connection and love with constituents," Smitherman said.

The sentiment was echoed by Vince Ross, who said Ford showed up at his wedding last year despite undergoing chemotherapy for the cancer that would eventually kill him last week.

"(He) was really gracious, took pictures, talked to everybody and really kick-started the party," Ross said.

Doug Ford, who jumped into the 2014 mayoral race after his brother was forced to withdraw, spent hours at the front of the line greeting visitors and posing for pictures with them, a favorite pastime of his late sibling.

Ford's casket will remain at city hall until Tuesday to allow the public to say goodbye.

On Wednesday, a procession will head to nearby St. James cathedral for funeral services, followed by a private family ceremony. The funeral for Conservative finance minister Jim Flaherty, a friend of the Fords, was also held at St. James.

Ford served as mayor from 2010 to 2014 but his re-election bid was stymied by his cancer diagnosis. He dropped out of the race weeks before voting day but ran for his old city council seat instead, winning easily.

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Follow @perkel on Twitter

By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

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(15) Comment

By frackingsux | MARCH 29, 2016 09:33 PM
Yep, everyone voted for their local candidate and jt just happened to be the leader of the party with the most seats. He wasn't mobbed in every riding he visited by supporters who knew little about his policies but were desperate for a selfie with the chosen one... What planet are you from?
By frackingsux | MARCH 29, 2016 09:29 PM
I'm certainly not angry but I am right. What a bizarre pattern you have established where the only way a person can be horrible/bad/wrong is if they break the law. Pretty weak defence of layton/trudeau. You dragged Trump in by calling his supporters "misguided" I countered by pointing out how misguided jt supporters are. Like him or not Trump is more qualified to run for President than jt is to be PM. Heck, except for the fact that my dad was never PM, I am more qualified to be the PM than jt.
By Roger | MARCH 29, 2016 08:40 PM
Ah yes, the battle cry of the angry right wing. What does Justin Trudeau have to do with this discussion? He hasn't committed any crimes while on the public dole either? And we don't vote for our Prime Minister in this country. Where are you from?
By frackingsux | MARCH 29, 2016 07:56 PM
Yep, no chance that Ford was cleaning up his act before he died and potentially returning to the person he was pre-drugs. He just would have returned to being a drug addict because he is an idiot, right? Not because he has a disease? Right? You're inability to view Ford as a great mayor with devastating personal demons is as much your failing as it was Ford's. Regardless, a person coming from a country with justin trudeau as PM calling another countries voters "misguided" provided much needed humour to the conversation... very rich indeed...
By Roger | MARCH 29, 2016 04:39 PM
Adam, my friend, you assume I have some connection to the NDP- which I do not. But you can rest assured that Jack Layton neither consorted with criminals nor committed criminal acts while in office. The only reason we didn't hear about any more Ford antics was that the guy was too busy trying to save his life. As I said, sad that he died young, but that does not excuse his behaviour while mayor of Toronto. Those who supported him as such remain terribly misguided. Much like Donald Trump supporters in the USA.
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