Is Rob Ford happy to help his gay constituents in Toronto?
His brother, Councillor Doug Ford, thinks so. He told reporters July 11 that Rob Ford is not a homophobe but rather a “spendaphobe” — and challenged media outlets to have a member of the LGBT community call the mayor’s office to request help so they could see Rob assist them.
Xtra promptly requested an interview with the mayor so he could demonstrate his support for the LGBT community.
Staff at both Councillor Ford’s and Mayor Ford’s offices said the Fords were busy but recorded Xtra’s contact information. Xtra also contacted the mayor’s media relations aide, Amin Massoudi, by phone and by email.
There was no response, which was not that surprising, as Rob Ford headed to Nathan Phillips Square after the morning council session for the unveiling of the Pan Am Games countdown clock.
The scene at Nathan Phillips Square was chaotic. Ford was surrounded by security guards trying to guide him back to city hall, but the mayor continually stopped to say hello to camp groups who had come to see the unveiling of the clock and to tour city hall. Small children weaved between the legs of reporters and camera crews trying to get a closer look at the mayor, adding to an already hazardous situation.
While Ford ignored reporters’ questions, Xtra again approached Massoudi to ask if, in light of Doug’s comments, Rob would be willing to sit down with Xtra to address his LGBT constituency.
“The man has a very busy schedule,” Massoudi said. “He’s focused on the items of council, especially the Eglinton Connects report, which is going to have a major impact on the entire city of Toronto.”
After leaving another message for Doug Ford, Xtra headed over to Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s office to get her reaction to Doug’s comments.
“That’s an extremely juvenile response,” she said when shown a Twitter post reporting Doug’s invitation to media to “plant” gay constituents to call his brother for assistance.
Wong-Tam also said that she and a group of people were accosted earlier in the day by a woman wearing a Ford Nation shirt who told them to stop harassing the mayor and called them “fucking faggots.”
“Right on city property,” Wong-Tam said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Xtra made one last attempt to ask Rob Ford a question, joining the daily throng of reporters who wait outside his office during lunch for the five-second walk he takes between his door and the elevator to council chambers.
As soon as Ford appeared, we all piled in around him, shouting questions: “Why did you sit instead of recognizing WorldPride?” “What do you have to say to the gay community?” and, from Global News Toronto’s Jackson Proskow, “Does standing cost money?”
Ford didn’t answer any of them.
Unable to find answers in person, Xtra sent the following list of questions via email to Mayor Ford, Massoudi and Councillor Ford:
Your brother told reporters on July 11 that you are willing to help LGBT constituents. Can you tell us about the last time you did?
You didn’t stand to recognize WorldPride July 9. Why?
City staff worked on WorldPride. Preliminary reports would also suggest it was a financial boon for Toronto. As someone who values cash flow into the city, wouldn’t you want to recognize that contribution?
Why did you hold the report on homeless LGBT youth shelters? Why did you vote against the report? Were you aware that the recommendations in the report had minimal to no financial impact on the city?
Your brother says you have gay staff and volunteers on your campaign team. But you haven’t disclosed the names of your full staff. Who is on the team? And when will the public meet these people, including the LGBT members?
You blamed your homophobic and racist comments on your “disease” and said in an interview with CBC, when asked if you would attend Pride next year, that you would take it “one day at a time.” How are your substance abuse problems related to the decision of whether or not to attend an event? And to comments that you have made?
Are you a homophobe? And if not, why do you continue to not march in the Pride parade?