Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is under fire this morning on all fronts after he announced he would skip Toronto's Pride parade in favour of a weekend at the cottage.
Ford would be the first mayor of the mega-city to miss the event, which draws an estimated million people to the city’s core each year for a celebration of gay life in Toronto, the Toronto Sun reports.
This year's parade is on July 3.
“We've been in Huntsville for the past 30 (years), as long as I can remember, since I've been a little boy,” Ford told reporters. “I'm carrying on a tradition my father had, last year I was there during the campaign, we’re there every year.”
The Globe's Marcus Gee blasted the mayor's decision, calling it "petty, stubborn and mean."
“Mr. Ford's decision to absent himself is an unmistakable snub, not just to an important city festival but to the whole gay community,” Gee writes.
Royson James of the Toronto Star said Ford is living a “black-and-white existence” that clashes with the diversity and colour of Big City Toronto:
“We thought someone would have reminded Mayor Ford that despite his own personal or religious views, despite his unease around gay people, despite his natural or cultivated antipathy towards such Torontonians, he had to do the mayor thing — the grip and grin, the bringing of greetings on behalf of the people of Toronto We thought wrong.”
Ford wasn't without allies. Barbara Kay, writing in the National Post, said "Good for Rob Ford. Canada Day is a day for all Canadians to celebrate their nation as a 34-million strong collective, not a small minority of people celebrating their sexuality."
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Still, widespread condemnation may be having an effect. The Toronto Star reports that Ford’s brother and chief advisor, Doug Ford, suggested the two could make the Pride parade after all.
"We have 20-odd people going up to our cottage for Canada Day, but if I can make it back I will, and we'll see if I can bring Rob," he said late Wednesday.
Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, a veteran activist in the gay community, characterized the mayor’s decision as a missed opportunity, The Globe and Mail reports.
“I think given the past historical remarks that he has made, for him to step forward and to march during this Pride weekend would have made a difference and would have gone a long way in making amends with the community,” she said.
"As a city Toronto is celebrated for its diversity and its tolerance. It appears we must now find a way to tolerate a mayor who takes no pride in Pride. The good news is that more people will line the route and dance in the streets than voted for the mayor. Torontonians are proud of Pride with or without the Mayor's blessing."
"There have been a lot of hard-won and incremental gains over the years, for lesbians and gays in this country but they are all easily reversible...It may seem to someone who grew up watching Will and Grace that this is the normal state of affairs, but it’s not and it is fragile."
“I think he is sending a very clear message that they don’t count in Rob Ford’s city."
“It offends me given all the work Torontonians have done making this an inclusive city.”
“We had a tremendous amount of gay people on our campaign that helped us out. When Rob picks up the phone he doesn’t ask people are you gay or are you straight, he goes and helps the people. That is just the way he is. He doesn’t give two hoots if you are straight, gay, whatever.”
"Maybe if (Ford) doesn’t come around this year, next year, I think he’ll work up his courage and go. Once you go, you’ll be fine...The only thing I didn’t like was those bare asses in front of me!”
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"I think it is Ford's right to not to attend the parade. It does send a strong message that there are people who the Fords value and those he does not."
"If it was a parade for straight people, or short people, or tall people or people of a particular ethnic group would anyone care? This seems to me to be completely political. Sure he should show his support as Mayor. However at the end of the day it seems symbolic. The key is the policies he favors and implements - not attending parades."
"Well, he's being honest. He doesn't want to be there, so he won't. I don't go along with his excuse of family time on that day. But if that's how he feels so be it."
This guy is trying to do his best GOP impersonation. Don't fall for it Canada.
"Being mayor is a job and it comes with duties, some of which may not be to your taste, but are considered part of your job. Your time is not wholly your own and you don't get the right to pick and choose which constituents you want to represent: you campaigned to be mayor of all of Toronto, Mr. Ford, not just mayor of the people you agree with. You chose to serve, and that means the bulk of your time belongs to the job."
"Toronto voted for him and knew who he was to begin with. This is no surprise. It's not like the only time he can see his family throughout the year is only during the pride parade. I'm sure his family would not even notice not seeing him for the half day he'd need to appear at the parade."
"I remember during the early early 80's in Boston... our Mayor.. Mayor White... would show up at a Few of the gay clubs with his staff and sometimes speak. Just to let us know that we were no longer 2nd Class Boston Citizens..."