Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is now blaming his past homophobic comments on his struggle with alcohol and drugs.
Ford, who has granted few media interviews since returning to office June 30 after a two-month stint in rehab, sat down for two live interviews July 2, with CBC reporter Dwight Drummond and CP24 reporter Stephanie Smyth.
After showing Ford a picture of himself holding a crack pipe, Drummond grilled the mayor on his drug use before asking why he has made homophobic, racist and misogynistic comments with such frequency. “When you have this disease, you say and do things that aren’t you,” Ford responded.
When asked by Smyth if he would attend next year’s Pride if he is reelected on Oct 27, Ford said he plans to take things one day at a time to deal with “his disease” — a reference to his drug and alcohol abuse.
Ford also told Smyth that he believes he has already apologized for comments he made that may have offended anybody in Toronto.
The mayor has repeatedly raised the ire of Toronto’s LGBT community, not only for his homophobic comments, but also for repeatedly skipping the Pride parade to go to his family cottage in Muskoka. He admitted at a mayoral candidates’ forum in February that he skips the Pride parade because of personal preference.
He also caused controversy earlier this year when he tried to have a Pride flag, raised in front of city hall in support of gay athletes competing at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, taken down. The Toronto Sun later released an audio tape of Ford where he can be heard referring to the Pride flag as “their fucking flag.”
Ford has also repeatedly voted against community grants for HIV/AIDS prevention, both as a city councillor and as mayor.
Kristyn Wong-Tam, an openly gay city councillor whose ward includes the Church-Wellesley Village, told Xtra on May 1 that she thinks the mayor has clearly demonstrated that he is not accepting of the LGBT community. “It’s not that he doesn’t get us,” Wong-Tam said. “He hates us.”