Toronto elects moderate conservative for mayor after Rob Ford

OTTAWA - Canada's biggest city, Toronto, elected a moderate conservative Monday to succeed crack-smoking Mayor Rob Ford, bringing an end to a chaotic 18 months at city hall.

The culmination of a long and sometimes bitter campaign saw radio broadcaster John Tory, 60, win the job of chief magistrate.

It was his second try in a decade. He beat out Rob Ford's brother Doug, who stepped in to replace Rob on the ballot last month after the bombastic mayor abruptly quit the race to undergo chemotherapy for cancer.

Rob Ford, meanwhile, reclaimed his old council seat in Monday's hotly-anticipated municipal election.

A record 53.4 per cent of voters turned out, including 161,147 early ballots cast across the city's 44 wards in the lead-up to the main event.

Rob Ford won the last election in 2010 with 47 per cent of 813,984 votes cast.

On Monday, Tory won with 40 per cent, according to local television projections an hour after the polls closed, followed by Doug ford in second with 34 per cent.

Tory campaigned on bridging a regional divide between the so-called "Ford Nation" of suburban residents demanding lower property taxes and gridlocked urbanites who desperately wanted to turn the page on the scandals at city hall, challenging the electorate to vote for anyone but the Ford brothers and demand new transit construction.

"Under my leadership, every corner of Toronto will matter," he said on the campaign trail.

Ford, who earned global notoriety for smoking crack cocaine while in office, meanwhile, pledged the Fords would return to reclaim the mayor's office in 2018.

"We (Fords) never ever give up," he told his supporters. "In four more years, you're going to see another example of the Ford family never ever giving up." The 45-year-old Ford had only returned to work in June after two months in rehab for drug and alcohol abuse, including the use of crack cocaine.

His drug abuse was first revealed last year when an alleged drug dealer tried to sell a video of him smoking crack to the media.

At first, Ford denied using the illegal drug, but later acknowledged he had smoked crack while in a "drunken stupor." Since then, he has been filmed numerous times in public behaving erratically and once smoking crack with his sister, just prior to his seeking help.

Toronto's city council stripped him of most of his mayoral powers last November over his misconduct, while calls for his resignation dogged him.

Nevertheless, his support remained relatively high as he campaigned on a give-me-another-chance platform over the summer.

Doug Ford, who was also a city councillor and is widely considered less charismatic than his populist younger sibling, was unable to carry it over to his campaign.