Mayor Rob Ford missed the beginning of Pride Week yesterday, sending council speaker Frances Nunziata in his stead to the raising of the rainbow flag at Nathan Philips Square. Anyone who’s watched Nunziata govern a council meeting can predict how well things went from there—heckling, followed by shouting, followed by more heckling and shouting. But later in the day, something unexpected happened: Ford appeared to equivocate on his earlier stance that he wouldn’t be attending Toronto’s Pride Parade after a meeting with Toronto Maple Leafs general manager and prominent gay rights supporter Brian Burke.
From the Globe and Mail:
Wearing a Leafs jersey bearing his last name, the mayor appeared briefly outside his office to account for his absence, explaining that he’d been too busy meeting Mr. Burke, who marched in the Pride parade last year mere months after his openly gay son died in a car crash.
“I had prior commitments this morning,” Mr. Ford said. “I had a meeting, a very important meeting, as you know, with Mr. Burke and that’s pretty well it.”
For his part, the mayor didn’t rule out his attendance at a future Pride event, but didn’t exactly sound thrilled at the prospect.
“We’ll take it one day at a time,” he said. “I’m very busy.”
If Ford does indeed relent and shows up at Pride, our sincerest kudos to him. Politically this is looking more and more like an own goal for the mayor, and if he can summon up the nerve to walk into a potentially hostile situation because he’s the mayor and that’s what a mayor does, then seriously—bravo. We don’t know what might be changing Ford’s mind—but we suspect it might have something to do with the prospect of a wedgie from Brian Burke or the realization that gays and lesbians are taxpayers too (one heckler at yesterday’s ceremony sported a sign that read “You Can’t Hide From Us 4Eva, Respect LGBTQ Taxpayers”).
Regardless of what’s prompted the mayor’s (possible) change of heart, we truly hope he shows up in the village during Pride. If not, well, there was a bunch of other conservatives at the flag-raising yesterday, some of whom may very well be sharpening their knives for 2014.