Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Ford's absence at Pride ceremony elicits boos
Now I understand a bit why the mayor should show up to something like this, but this is a individual's decision to go and if it comes in the way of his family annual reunion at his cottage, then so be it, family is stronger than a job. At least it should be for most people. I think with or without the mayor there, the event won't change at all, it's not like he's the host of the parade anyways.
Toronto council speaker Frances Nunziata was greeted with boos at the flag-raising ceremony for Toronto's Pride Week as protesters demanded to know why Mayor Rob Ford was not present.
Nunziata was acting as Ford's representative at the noon ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square on Monday, in which she proclaimed Pride Week festivities were officially underway.
But she was drowned out by a handful of protesters at the ceremony who booed as she tried to read the proclamation.
"Where's the mayor?," they yelled. Some were carrying signs with slogans like "you can't hide from us 4eva," and "respect LGBTQ taxpayers."
Nunziata responded by saying those who didn't want to hear her speak "have the right to leave."
'Could have softened the blow'
She said after the meeting that Ford had a "prior commitment" and could not attend the ceremony.
"I don't think people should criticize because you can't be at all places at the same time," she said.
Ford said later that he skipped the flag ceremony for a "private" meeting at the Air Canada Centre with Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke.
Last year Burke marched in the parade as a tribute to his son Brendan, who was killed in a car accident. This was just months after his son revealed he was gay. Since then Burke has been fighting homophobic attitudes.
When asked by reporters later on Monday if the meeting had changed his mind, Ford told reporters "One day at a time. Let's take it one day at a time."
Pride organizers say there are seven more days of events that the mayor could attend and add they would be happy if he even made a small appearance to show his support.
Ford's relationship with Pride Week has come under intense scrutiny in recent days after the mayor said he would skip this week's Pride Parade to spend that time with his family at his cottage.
Richard Warner, one of those who shouted down Nunziata, said Ford's decision to not attend the parade was not politically smart, given the size of the city's gay community and how much the event brings to the city's economy. He also lamented Ford's decision not to come to the flag raising ceremony.
"If he had shown up today...he could have softened the blow [of not attending the parade]," said Warner.
The mayor said he still may attend other Pride-related events, but first has to check his schedule.
The Pride Parade will be held on July 3 and is the culmination of the city's well-known Pride Week, a 10-day festival celebrating sexual diversity in downtown Toronto.