Shut out of the Toronto Santa Claus parade last month, a jolly Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was welcomed with mixed feelings as he strolled down Lake Shore Boulevard for Etobicoke’s annual parade on Saturday.
Thousands turned out for the Toronto Etobicoke Lakeshore Christmas Santa Claus Parade where not even new allegations of more drug use and gang ties could keep Ford away.
“He thinks he’s so popular, that he’s a celebrity, but he’s a goof,” said parade spectator Jim Coopers. “He’s a buffoon and he needs to stay away from the kids.”
Stopping for the usual swarm of photos and to shake hands, Ford walked alongside the parade route tossing out candy canes to excited children.
“I’ve never seen a politician get a 100 per cent, but I’ll take 90 per cent,” said Ford. “I’m happy with 90 per cent of the support.”
Ford, Holyday meet again
A new wave of controversy hit the mayor this week after police wiretaps of alleged gang members suggested police believed Ford may have tried to purchase the infamous crack video by offering up $5,000 and a vehicle.
All week, Ford has ducked in and out of his office without responding to reporter’s questions about the latest revelations. On Friday he showed up unexpectedly to a press event to announce the city’s upcoming winter operation plans.
Several local residents including Terry Smith tried unsuccessfully to keep Ford away from the Etobicoke parade, and the impressionable minds waiting for a glimpse of the man in red suit.
“A number of community members, myself included, called the organizing committee and said we don’t think it’s appropriate,” Smith said.
If not at least momentarily, however, Santa Claus took a backseat to the celebrity Ford as he dashed between both sides of the street to greet the public.
“I heard he does cocaine…He does a lot of drugs and it’s all over the news,” said nine-year-old Joshua Lorenz.
A photo posted on Twitter even caught newly elected MPP Doug Holyday posing for a photo with Ford.
Holyday left municipal politics, and his position as deputy mayor, in August after being winning a byelection in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding.
With each public appearance, the same question continues to surface as to whether Toronto’s controversial mayor is welcome.
“They’re talking about cancelling conventions because of this guy,” one parade-goer told CBC News. “Toronto is a great city, what do we need this guy.”
On Monday, Ford plans to attend the funeral for fallen police Const. John Zivcic who died after responding to an emergency call in Etobicoke last weekend.
Coun. Doug Ford said Friday that there was no reason for his brother not to be at the funeral.
“This is a police officer that served in Etobicoke, that put his life on the line for the people of Toronto,” Ford said. “One hundred per cent we’ll be there in support of our front-line police officers.”
But even on his home turf in Toronto’s west end, the cracks are starting to show in what was once unwavering support.
“He shouldn’t be here. He especially shouldn’t be at the police officer’s funeral,” said one man.
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