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Did the Rob Ford campaign make a donation to Pride Toronto?

Stickers bearing election slogan were distributed during parade

The stickers in question, printed by Deco Labels, Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug Ford's company. Credit: Xtra file photo

Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug Ford say their family printing company made a $5,000 donation to Pride Toronto (PT) last year. But neither PT nor Deco Labels say they have any record of the gift.

The claim was made to Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow and published in the Toronto Star on May 16. Doug told Xtra on May 18 the donation wasn’t cash. It was for about $5,000 in “rainbow stickers,” which were distributed at Pride.

But Glen Brown, interim PT executive director, has no record of any donation from the Ford family printing company, Deco Labels.

On May 18, Xtra dug up a picture of the stickers Doug is referring to. The words “Donated by Rob Ford for Mayor” appear in tiny type at the bottom.

Doug and Brown say the request for printing services came from volunteers for a PT group called Family Pride, who reportedly said they needed stickers to fill prize bags for children.

Doug says only a few stickers with the “Ford for Mayor” message on them made it to the street.

“When I saw that they had ‘Rob Ford for Mayor’ on them, I put a stop to that,” Doug says, adding that about 200 stickers managed to get in the box of 50,000. “As soon as I saw [the campaign slogan] I said, ‘No, we aren’t doing that.’”

Doug says the issue is being blown out of proportion.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” he tells Xtra. “It almost discourages me when I get questioned like this. Why should I even donate if I get heat for being the nice guy?”

Along with about 10 other volunteers, Doug says, he handed out the stickers during Pride Week. “It’s not campaigning because Rob didn’t even show up,” he says.

Doug mentioned the circular rainbow stickers previously in an April 20 interview with Xtra: “Rob wouldn’t have approved a $5,000 donation through printing at our company if he had any issues with the gay community,” he said. “We provided all the little stickers for Pride last year.”

“Hey, I support you guys. I come out publicly and tell everyone I support you. I’m just trying to help out.”

Brown says Family Pride confirmed that Deco Labels supplied the stickers but that no paperwork can be found. He says it’s unlikely volunteers would have handed out campaign stickers during Pride Week.

“If there were a donation of stickers, it likely wouldn’t have been the ones you have a photograph of,” Brown says. “Certainly if it had anything to do with Family Pride, the folks who run that event would not have handed out partisan literature. It would have been a revolt that we would still be managing.”

Family Pride’s Holly Renaud says she called up Deco Labels and asked for some help. The artwork for the stickers – one has a rainbow flag, the other a rainbow heart – was supplied by Family Pride, she says.

“I remember a large box of stickers, and not one of them said ‘Rob Ford for Mayor,’” she says. “We had no money to pay for the stickers. We have a zero budget. So we asked if they could make it a donation.”

Ford’s campaign spending is currently under review after two Toronto residents filed a complaint with the city’s Compliance Audit Committee, a citizen body that reviews allegations of municipal election violations. The complaint claims that Mayor Ford contravened municipal campaign finance rules during the 2010 election.

The Ford brothers have been big supporters of Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s motion to remove funding from PT. The issue will be debated at the May 24 executive committee meeting. The final vote is expected in June.