Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will not be invited to an official City of Toronto WorldPride event that will welcome international elected officials and global human-rights leaders.
The reception will take place on the same day as the WorldPride opening ceremonies in June, says Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.
“This will be a VIP reception for elected officials, and we will be inviting the world,” she says. “We want to demonstrate to them that this is how Toronto celebrates its diversity. This city is an inclusive place for LGBT people. We hope to share information and foster a deeper understanding of how our governments can work together to further human rights around the world.”
The reception will be hosted by the City of Toronto. “I am not inviting Mayor Ford," Wong-Tam says. "His time has passed. He has never acknowledged our community. We have these [homophobic and racist] comments. He has never denied making those comments.”
“He doesn’t represent the values of this city . . . LGBTQ people have reached out to me, and it is their preference that the mayor is not there. So, I will not be asking the mayor to receive our international dignitaries . . . He should not be the face of the community when he has done nothing for this community.
“I don’t want this mayor to embarrass us in front of international guests . . . The mayor of the most diverse city in Canada should not be making homophobic and racist slurs.”
On Nov 5, Ford admitted that he has smoked crack cocaine "in a drunken stupor." The bombshell follows Ford’s apology the previous weekend on Newstalk 1010. He admitted he has made “mistakes” and that he has a “drinking problem.”
“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” he told the throngs of journalists that had been camped outside his office for days. Reporters have been clamouring for answers since Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair confirmed that police have the video that journalists say depicts Ford smoking crack and making homophobic and racist comments.
Blair said the content of the video is “consistent with what had been previously described in various media reports.”
Wong-Tam now wants Ford to own up to the content of the video and take responsibility for his actions. “He has now apologized for just about everything, but he has not apologized for making homophobic and racist remarks,” she says.
Pride Toronto executive director Kevin Beaulieu says the board has not yet decided whether Ford will be invited to WorldPride.
“[With] these latest revelations that have come to light in the past day or two . . . The board hasn’t made any decisions. They may have the opportunity to do that in the next few days.”
Beaulieu says it’s time for Ford to also acknowledge all the homophobic and racist remarks that he’s made throughout his political career.
“Any racist or homophobic remarks are unacceptable, and the first step is to acknowledge them,” he says. “We haven’t even had an acknowledgment of what many consider to be an even worse transgression than drug use.”
Throughout the morning of Nov 5, Doug Ford gave several media interviews accusing the police chief of bias and suggesting he should step down. He also claimed that his brother had been “uninvited” to the chief’s annual gala Nov 6, at which the mayor was scheduled to attend as a head-table guest. Blair has since denied the snub and told the media the mayor is still invited.
While the circus continues to unfold at city hall, many councillors say the distraction is preventing them from focusing on important business. Wong-Tam says council must now continue doing its work.
“I feel like this is such a tragic moment in the city,” she says. “The mayor is supposed to embody the values of the city, and in many ways the mayor represents the aspirations of the city, and sadly, we are not moving forward.”