His drug and alcohol-fuelled antics made world headlines and engulfed a city in unprecedented controversy. Toronto mayor Rob Ford's personal and political troubles have occupied centre stage in North America's fourth-largest city since news broke that drug dealers were selling a videotape of Ford appearing to smoke crack cocaine. Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle was one of three journalists to view the video and report on its contents in May 2013. Her dogged pursuit of the story has uncovered disturbing details about the mayor's past, and embroiled the Toronto police, city councillors, and ordinary citizens in a raucous debate about the future of the city. Even before those explosive events, Ford was a divisive figure. A populist and successful city counillor, he was an underdog to become mayor in 2010. His politics and mercurial nature have split the amalgamated city in two. But there is far more to the story. The Ford family has a long, unhappy history of substance abuse and criminal behaviour. Despite their troubles, they are also one of the most ambitious families in Canada. Those close to the Fords say they often compare themselves to the Kennedys and believe they were born to lead. Doolittle says that regardless of whether the mayor survives the current crack-cocaine scandal, the Ford name will be on the ballot in the mayoralty election in 2014.
Robyn Doolittle is a city hall reporter with the Toronto Star. She began her career covering crime and moved to the municipal politics beat during the 2010 mayoral elections. A graduate of Ryerson University's journalism school, Doolittle has lived in Toronto since 2002.