Angry shouts and hostile jeers met Councillor Frances Nunziata, who was sent to read the Pride Week proclamation on behalf of Mayor Rob Ford, on June 27 at city hall.
The crowd continued booing when it became clear that Ford was once again a no-show. “Where’s the mayor?” “This is bullshit!” “We have a homophobe for a mayor!”
“He is supposed to be the mayor for the whole city. Queers are taxpayers, too!”
Looking increasingly annoyed by the heckling, Nunziata stopped reading the proclamation and snapped, “I think there are people here that would like for me to be here and read the proclamation. If you don’t agree, you have the right to leave.” Thunderous boos and cries of “Shame” erupted from the crowd.
“Where is Ford? We’re still waiting,” someone shouted from the back. Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam smiled at the crowd, trying to quell the anger. “I’m waiting too, my friends. It’s sometimes hard to bring people on side. Remember how difficult it was coming out to your parents. We have to keep trying.”
In her speech, Angie Umbac, the 2011 Pride Toronto international grand marshal, noted that free speech is a precious right that’s still denied to gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people beyond Canada’s borders. “It’s a wonderful freedom to come and publicly voice anger against the mayor.”
More than 400 attended the ceremony. No one could confirm if the mayor was inside city hall at the time.
“It is appalling that Ford didn’t show up today,” said local DJ Craig Dominic. “Everyone in this city should be offended. This is not how the mayor of Toronto should behave. People need to pay attention to this.”
Local activist Enza Anderson blames Ford’s public relations staff for failing to put the pressure on or stress the importance of the event. “He was touring the Air Canada Centre with [Toronto Maple Leafs general manager] Brian Burke, who asked Ford to join him marching with PFLAG. How do you turn down a group of mothers?”
The councillors who attended the ceremony included Wong-Tam, Mike Layton, Jaye Robinson, Pam McConnell, Paula Fletcher, Cesar Palacio, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson, Adam Vaughan, Mary Fragedakis, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Gord Perks, Janet Davis, Sarah Doucette, Josh Colle, Josh Matlow, Frances Nunziata and Shelley Carroll.
Ford was also a no-show at the Proud of Toronto event at city hall in May and the proclamation for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia at city hall with PFLAG Toronto.