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Reaction Roundup: the fallout over Rob Ford’s decision not to march in the Pride Parade—again

(Image: Ryan)

It feels like déjà vu: despite getting tons of flak for not attending any Pride Toronto events last year, Rob Ford has once again decided to spend July 1 at his Muskoka cottage rather than marching in the annual parade. Asked whether he’ll attend any other Pride events, like the raising of the rainbow flag at city hall, the mayor gave an unhelpful “We’ll see.” Ford’s decision not to march, though not a shocker, has unleashed plenty of passionate discussion around the city. Here’s a roundup of what councillors, columnists and Ford himself had to say about it all.

• Ford defended himself by implying that skipping the parade doesn’t have anything to do with his feelings about the gay community: “I’m not sending any message. I’m spending it with my family up north, like I have for 25 years.”

• Not true, said Irene Miller, president of Toronto’s Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. The mayor’s decision “actually sends a message that even those who should represent all of us don’t represent or recognize some of us.”

• Some activists wondered why the mayor was even invited, given his lack of support in the past. But Kevin Beaulieu, executive director of Pride Toronto, believes it’s important to keep asking politicians to participate, even if they haven’t before. “If they haven’t supported our community in the past, this is an excellent opportunity for them to do that now, so they can learn and grow and come to understand our community better,” he told Xtra.

• Kristyn Wong-Tam, the councillor for Toronto Centre-Rosedale (which includes the gay community in the Church and Wellesley area), who’s a lesbian, was on Metro Morning today. Wong-Tam said she doesn’t believe the mayor is homophobic—just shy, and perhaps insecure around a community he doesn’t fully understand. In the Globe and Mail, she was less diplomatic: “He chose to be the mayor. He asked for this job. And this job is to represent the most diverse city in Canada … I don’t think it’s right for the mayor to be selective of who he wants to represent.”

• Torontoist’Hamutal Dotan also raised the homophobia question. A no-show from Ford “matters because people openly wonder if our mayor is homophobic, and he is giving them more cause to wonder,” she wrote, pointing out that Ford has made a political career out of championing the little guy, but is now “snubbing an entire community with a long history of disenfranchisement.”

• The Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee looked at the issue through the perspective of Ford’s ability to lead, suggesting that the mayor’s diminishing clout at city hall is connected to his decision to avoid Pride. The move represents “the worst aspects of his mayoralty: the stubbornness, the refusal to take in other perspectives, the failure to grow in the job and become mayor of all Torontonians instead of just the champion of his own base.”

• Rob Ford to skip parade, but urged to attend other Pride events [Globe and Mail]
• Rob Ford and Pride Toronto [Xtra]
• Rob Ford Should Participate in Pride. Period. [Torontoist]
• Decision to skip Pride reminds Toronto of Mayor Ford’s worst traits [Globe and Mail]