It appears not all conservatives are ready to quit on controversial Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
On Friday, as right-wingers across the country gathered in Ottawa for the 6th annual Manning Network Conference, photos began surfacing online of buttons found at the event featuring the image of Canada's most notorious mayor.
The buttons read: "I'd Rather Drink With Rob Than Smoke With Justin!"
These buttons are apparently making the rounds at the Manning conference. pic.twitter.com/ICCfeLjAnG— Kris Sims (@kris_sims) February 28, 2014
The joke is, of course, related to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's support for marijuana legalization and Ford's history with alcohol.
But the Toronto mayor has also admitted to smoking marijuana — and crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor."
And just last month, Ford told U.S. radio hosts that he believes the Harper government should at least consider decriminalizing pot.
"The Conservative government up here is very, you know, it's job creation, it is stimulating the economy but I've questioned that too sometimes why wouldn't they at least decriminalize it and try to get revenue from it," he said on Washington, D.C. radio show, The Sports Junkies.
The buttons were made by MPrinthouse, a company that has provided promotional materials for various Conservative MPs. The company's 2014 catalog says they have been "proudly serving the right-wing for the last 11 years."
It's unclear if anyone at the conference actually wore the buttons, though.
Ford was in Ottawa this week for the Big City Mayors' Caucus. He caused a stir by ducking out early from the first Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting he has ever attended to have lunch at an Ottawa pub.
But Ford also sparked headlines after essentially telling his fellow mayors to pick sides in the next federal election or stop whining about treatment from Ottawa. Ford famously endorsed the Tories in the 2011 election.
Many mayors expressed concern that the $14-billion, ten-year federal infrastructure plan announced in the federal budget falls well short of their needs. But Ford said he wasn't there to rip on Tories, including family friend Jim Flaherty, who ponied up $600 million for a municipal subway extension.
"So I said, listen, take a stand. In the next federal election, take a stand. Either you're going to support Mulcair and the NDP or you're going to vote Trudeau and the Liberals or you're going to vote for the new leader of the Bloc," Ford told reporters.
"But don't sit there and complain if you're not going to take a stand."
The Manning Conference, named after former Reform leader Preston Manning, is an event that brings together conservative politicians, interest groups, activists, students, and even some critics.
Speakers at this year's conference include Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Ontario Tory leader Tim Hudak and Employment Minister Jason Kenney.
"I will say as an elected official that I think Mr. Ford has brought dishonour to public office and the office of mayor and his city," he said.
Kenney's comments reportedly earned him a profane rebuke in the House from Flaherty, who, according to CBC News, told him to "shut the f—k up" about the Toronto mayor.
With a file from The Canadian Press
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