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Next Ford Fest conflicts with LGBT issues debate

Mayor still hasn’t responded to invitation to debate organized by proudTOvote

The organizers of proudTOvote kick off their campaign outside city hall on Sept 4. Credit: HG Watson

There will be another Ford Fest this fall — and it happens to be scheduled on the same day as a mayoral debate on LGBT issues.

On Sept 9, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told reporters at city hall that the next Ford Fest will take place Sept 19 in Etobicoke, the same night that the proudTOvote debate is set to take place at Ryerson University. ProudTOvote, which is presenting the debate, is a non-partisan group focused on getting the LGBT community out to vote.

All four leading mayoral candidates have been invited to the event, with three confirming their attendance. Ford’s office has not responded to the invitation.

John Clifford, the spokesperson for proudTOvote, points out that Ford can still make both events if he wants to. His group’s debate begins at 5:30pm and will be finished by 6:45pm. “I think it’s an interesting coincidence,” he says of the scheduling conflict.

At the first Ford Fest of 2014 in Scarborough, a group of LGBT activists had slurs yelled at them and their signs ripped out of their hands by Ford supporters. Both Rob and Doug Ford later apologized for the incident.

Ford Fest is also typically covered by all Toronto’s major media outlets, which follow the mayor’s every move. But Clifford is not worried about the possibility that Ford Fest may draw media attention away from the debate, noting that the issues that will be discussed at the debate are of interest to the whole city.

“I would hope that we would still get good coverage,” he says. “Perhaps it will be a counterbalance in coverage to the reporting on Ford Fest.” He adds that there are no plans to reschedule the proudTOvote debate.

Neither Mayor Ford nor his communications staff has responded to Xtra’s request for comment.

The proudTOvote debate is Sept 19 at 5:30pm at the Ryerson University Library.