TORONTO, June 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Despite a history of mayors taking part in Toronto’s annual “Gay Pride” parade, current Mayor Rob Ford told the media he will be at the cottage on the weekend, in keeping with a long-held family tradition.
Ford told the Toronto Sun, “We’ve been in Huntsville for the past 30 (years), as long as I can remember, since I’ve been a little boy. I’m carrying on a tradition my father had, last year I was there during the campaign, we’re there every year.”
“My family comes first,” Mayor Ford told reporters on Thursday. “I’m going up to the cottage. I don’t know how much more clear I can be and that’s the end of story.”
Although Ford is on record for saying that the city should not be funding the parade, he signed the proclamation declaring homosexual pride week.
Deputy mayor Doug Holyday remarked to the media that he estimated more than 65% of the city will be away for the July long weekend when the parade takes place.
“(Ford) is entitled to a long weekend like anyone else,” Holyday said. “He can’t be everywhere.”
Response to Ford’s decision from festival organizers and some city councilors varied from disappointment to outrage.
Pride Toronto co-chairman Francisco Alvarez told the Sun they are “disappointed” in Ford’s decision.
“If I were mayor, I certainly would plan to be at one of the major cultural events of the year,” Alvarez said, adding Ford was still welcome to attend the parade.
Councillor Janet Davis said she was appalled and that Mayor Ford was an “embarrassment” for the city, while Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said Ford’s refusal to participate in the parade sends a clear message to Toronto’s homosexuals.
“Given the past historical remarks that he’s 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.
However, Mayor Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, defended his brother against the disparagement of the pro-homosexual councilors.
“If someone needs Rob’s help, he’s there for them. And again, he doesn’t ask if they’re gay, straight, purple, pink, white, whatever,” Doug Ford told the National Post. “I’m sure a number of gay people were out there voting for Rob Ford in the last election. And not all gay people always agree with going to the parade. Not every single gay person in this city is going to the parade.”
Former mayor Mel Lastman told the media that while he did attend the parades while in office, he didn’t appreciate the nudity and feigned or actual sex acts that are part the event.
“I started to think am I going to be bombarded with all kinds of stuff when I get there, am I going to be embarrassed in front of millions of people?” he said in an interview with the National Post.
“I figured I don’t know what the hell to do here, so I talked to my sons, and son Dale said ‘dad you ran on a campaign that you were representing all the people of Toronto and no matter what happened in the past, your obligation is to go.’”
“I got up on the firetruck, I was waving to everybody and everybody was cheering me on … the only thing I didn’t appreciate was the two guys walking in front of me with their bare asses sticking out. That I could never get used to.”