As Mayor of the largest and most diverse city in Canada, you would think Rob Ford would have a little more common sense about getting on the wrong side of people. However, if there’s something nobody has ever accused Ford of, that’s common sense.
So when he announced last week that he was not going to attend the Gay Pride Week Parade in Toronto’s downtown this Friday — Canada Day — because he “always goes to the cottage that weekend”, it wasn’t exactly a shocker. Ford has conspicuously refused to attend any Pride or LGBT events in Toronto whatsoever since taking office last year. But with Pride Week being the largest LGBT events in the world and spanning 9 days, you would think Ford would be able to attend at least one event to support this enormous initiative in his community – not to mention tip his hat to the huge economic boon the festival brings to his cash-strapped tax coffers. But Ford is repeatedly dodging the question about whether he will attend any of the events, saying “his family comes first”. When asked directly if he was homophobic, his answer was unintelligible.
So far, he’s been a no-show for the opening flag-raising event, instead sending a representative who was booed vociferously by the annoyed crowd when she spoke the words “I, Mayor Rob Ford…” on his behalf.
Ford has been criticized for his anti-gay comments before, such as in 2006 when then-Councillor Ford argued against a $1.5M AIDS prevention strategy, saying that AIDS was already “very preventable. If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn’t get AIDS probably, that’s the bottom line.”
Ford needs to tread carefully. The LGBT community in Toronto is nothing if not vocal – and it’s not a community he wants on his bad side. If, as his actions seem to indicate, he is less than positive towards LGBT individuals, he may be in for a long few years of “no comments” about his increasingly divisive actions.
Photo credit: Karlina on Flickr