06.26.2011 08:38 AM

In today’s Sun: the mayor of some of the people, not all of them

In 1971, a Canadian politician could probably get away with snubbing the gay community.

In 1981? Probably then, too.

1991? Getting tougher. 2001? Getting a lot tougher.

2011? Pretty much impossible.

That’s why the decision of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to skip the city’s annual Pride parade attracted a lot of attention last week. It’s the first time in a long time a Toronto mayor has snubbed the powerful gay community. Among other things, it’s kind of bizarre.

Ford’s excuse — he’s continuing a 30-year family tradition of gathering at the cottage in Huntsville.


  1. Africon says:

    I’ll bet that a whole lot more than 15% of the population, of people of all religious stripes, traditions and customs are not crazy about the kind of displays that radical and overt gays are known for at their parades.
    Most of the wrongs against the gay community have been righted and when “they” have been widely accepted as an ordinary part of society, what is there left to fight for or protest against ? No politician can legislate against homophobia anymore than racism can be legislated out of existence. Attitudes take much more time to change.
    There was a time in UK when whether you or a politician supported Catholics or Protestants was a huge deal, not so much any more.

    Was it the so called “ethnic” vote or the “gay” vote that changed things in the Harper victory ?
    How dumb was it for the Libs to ignore the “Jewish” vote ?
    All in all, a dumb article.

    ps, Of course, one can be sensible ( ie a conservative ) about Government finances and support small government and also be gay or have 4 wives – it is a non issue.

  2. Al in Cranbrook says:

    I think the first thing that should be understood is that a public figure, in this case a politician, attending a “gay” event is no more or less than a statement of “I’m okay with this.” It is not necessarily an endorsement, nor should anyone construe it as such.

    That clarified, a politician deciding not to attend a specific event (of any kind) thus is no more or less than a statement of “I’m not okay with this.”

    And I certainly can understand why a great many would choose to avoid what has typically become astoundingly rude and lurid public demonstrations. I personally would not be caught dead anywhere near one…and I bloody well would not want my children exposed to such disgusting nonsense, either!

    I question the integrity of politicians who go out of their way to appear at such obnoxious demonstrations, and thereby indicate “I’m okay with this revolting crap (if it will win me some votes).”

    • Al in Cranbrook says:

      I would add to this…

      Is this so-called “controversy” really any more than yet another example of “if you’re not FOR me, then you clearly are AGAINST me”?

      Where is the middle ground in that???

      • JenS says:

        You’re conveniently missing the fact that this is far, far from Ford’s first snub of the gay community. You’re also conveniently forgetting that he has been invited, if he is unable to make the parade, to other Pride events, but seemingly just can’t see his way clear, though he has oodles of room in his sched for non-events, including an array of grip-and-grins. His actions reek of homophobia, nothing more and nothing less.

        But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.

        • Al in Cranbrook says:

          I have no idea what his personal beliefs about this matter are.

          However, he certainly is entitled to his personal beliefs.

          And, in the very least, even if the rest do not understand his beliefs, there is at least some semblance of obligation to be tolerant regarding his right to hold said beliefs. I’ve seen no indication that he is prepared to force his personal beliefs on this matter, whatever they are, on anyone else, nor to trample over any others’ rights to their their own.

          Maybe he has strong beliefs on religious grounds, as do very many others. That’s no crime. And, if such were the case, would it not be hypocritical of him to pretend otherwise?

          Or has being deliberately phony become something we’ve come to demand of our leadership?

          And certainly, if the majority are not happy with this, they certainly are free to elect someone else to be mayor next time around.

          That’s the beauty of our democratic system, is it not?

          There are, tragically, a great many places in this world where such is not the case.

          And others are free to slap conveniently negative labels on those who do not share their point of view…which, incidentally, I don’t recall the mayor doing with regard to the gay community.

    • AmandaM says:

      Al, clearly you’ve not been to Pride, because it is absolutely not “rude and lurid”. I’ve been taking my son since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, and he is now a wonderfully judgment-free teenager. The parade, and many of the events around it, are family-friendly. It’s the night-time stuff that you want to avoid if you don’t want to see or be a part of R-rated events. There’s a reason why it’s at night and you have to be 19 to participate in most events – don’t forget, Sir, that these are consenting adults.

      Furthermore, when did you become the Arbiter of Taste and the Judge of What is Rude, Lurid or Revolting? Have you ever been to Mardi Gras? Would you judge it similarly? Bare breasts are the order of the day, as well as overt sexuality on display publicly. Or perhaps would you have fun at the daytime events with your kids and retire to your hotel at night and refuse to partake? Is it rude, lurid and revolting because it is homosexuality on display? Or is yours a problem with displays of sexuality in general?

      You see, Al, as a private citizen you have a choice. You can decide to let your private prejudices and judgments of others who are different from you rule your life, instead of experiencing the wonderful diversity of humanity, right up until the moment you become a public office-holder. At that point, you take an oath to represent ALL of your constituents, not just the ones you find personally palatable. And that, Al, is why Mayor Ford should be attending Pride. He has been invited to the G-rated events, and there is literally no reason why he can’t physically do it, and if he were committed to his constituents – all of them, he would show some support for a traditionally under-represented population. It’s his job, full stop.

  3. Bill M. says:

    I guess Ford missed the part where the Mayor is expected to show up for events that reflect the culture of the city.

    If he didn’t want the job, as most disgruntled don’t, he could not have run and happily spent all his summers at the cottage.

    It’s called responsibility Rob.

    Would he run to the cottage if a Royal Visit were in town? If there were a disaster in the city that required his attention, would that be enough to get him down from the cottage?

    Maybe when he wants your vote next time, you can all return the favor.

  4. James Curran says:

    The powerful gay community? Hardly. Those days are over me thinks. In fact, you have the gay Sue Ann Levy strongly writing in support of this anti-gay mayor in the very paper this article is printed in.

  5. Nuna D. Above says:

    That column reads like it was dashed off before you headed out to the cottage. Where do you get the 15 percent of the population is gay number? Do you mean 15 percent of the voters in urban ridings like Toronto Centre? Why would Ford’s base care if he skipped the parade? Harper didn’t support same-sex marriage and increased his vote every election, did he not? Why couldn’t a gay conservatives support the Conservatives on Israel, or business issues? Are the one percent of gays who will have a wedding ceremony (the number at the 5 year anniversary in Canada of same sex marriage rights) supposed to be the only issue, ever? Did the Liberals not find out the hard way that many Jewish, Catholic and ethnic voters don’t “belong” to the Liberal party? Do the people who don’t want Ford at the parade not count for anything? Could Ford not be waiting to see if the anti-Israel group keeps its word about staying out of the parade before he shows up at future parades?

  6. CQ says:

    In 1971, a news reporter had to stay in the closet.
    In 1981, a news reporter had to stay in the closet.
    In 1991, a news reporter had to stay in the closet.
    In 2001, a news reporter had to stay in the closet.
    and in 2011, a news reporter had to stay in the closet.

    Either the public IS unmoving and intolerant OR it is those earnest careerists throughout the real news and sports media who are the ones who are truly intolerant – of giving the public at large an open chance to accept or (like G. Smitherman) freely reject them. Only the Lifestyles and Entertainment field are acceptable, right?
    … and Calgary’s citizens never voted for a mayor of Muslim faith, and Houston, Texas never knowingly voted for a lesbian either – they are not(??) “of Toronto or Montreal, or from a proper blue state, yada yada”. Get over it.

  7. Patrick Hamilton says:

    Mr. Tulk, as long as we have people like you who denote being gay or lesbian as a choice, then we still have work to do. I did not choose this path sir, and those of you who continue to think so need to get your heads out of the sand(tough for a Conservative I know)….btw, Mr. Tulk, why dont you ask John Baird if his sexuality was a choice?…..

    • JenS says:

      I don’t think the sand is where Gord’s head is on this one. Not even close.

    • Africon says:

      Just to be clear here Patrick, do “bi-sexuals” make a choice or is that decision also built into one’s DNA ?

      Not being Muslim or Morman, I also do not know if that marital lifestyle decision is a choice or not ? Does anyone ?

      Methinks that after a while of having 6 wives my built in DNA just might change.
      I do not think that it much matters if it is a choice or not.

    • Patrick Hamilton says:

      Mr Tulk, I think orientation describes my sexuality best. Ive never believed it was 100% genetic, though I am sure that does play a part……I am the only gay member to my knowledge of my immediate family. My personal belief is that our sexuality is determined in the womb. Most of my gay friends fathers, (including my own) were alcoholic(which automatically makes people thinks that not having a strong father figure caused it….well I was raised under the same conditions as my two brothers, and theyre both straight). My belief is that during critical moments in a pregnancy, too many stress hormones released by the body affect the fetus. I was not a wanted pregnancy, but my mom was not about to have an abortion, so I was kept. Stressor 1. My mother stated that during her pregnancy, my fathers drinking was out of control, and he lost his job because of it. Stressor 2. My mom also mentioned that the summer of 1959 was one of the hottest on record, and this being before the days of air conditioning, she was completely miserable.Stressor 3. There has been some research in this area, and I understand that stress while in the womb can play a part in a childs sexual orientation. This is a bit of trivia, but did you know the incidence of being gay is about 30% higher in left handed people. I am left handed, and my two best gay friends are left handed as well…Food for thought on the nature/nurture argument…..

  8. Al in Cranbrook says:

    To draw a parallel for the purpose of illustration…

    I’m a firearms owner and hunter, avidly so, and supremely fed up with campaigns deliberately contrived by the usual suspects to depict me and fellow enthusiasts for the sport as some sort of threat to society, even criminals just waiting for a place to happen.

    I’ve gotten beyond the point of trying to make anti-gun extremists understand my sport or why I’m involved, primarily because people with such entrenched positions aren’t interested in “understanding” anything. They’re interested, to the point of fundamentalist radicalism, in reshaping the entire world to suit their ideas of what it should be. “Tolerance” for any other point of view, thus, simply is not in their vocabulary.

    However, what I am very conscious about is the image I, and fellow participants, present to the rest of the world. To put it bluntly, being “in your face” to the point of ignorant does not in any way help my sport, nor encourage understanding or tolerance. So I go out of my way, when engaged in any aspect of it, to be diplomatic, and to be respectful that others do not share my interest, nor are they obligated to. Hunting and shooting are not for everyone. On the other hand, I don’t slink about like I’m somehow supposed to be ashamed or apologetic, either. I have no problem with driving home with elk antlers clearly visible in the back of my truck…but conversely, I also would never dream of strapping a dead deer to the hood, either, because that’s pushing the envelope and genuinely offends people, and negatively affects public opinion.

    The gay community does itself no favors by pushing the same envelope with deliberately obnoxious public behavior (that too often no one else would get away with), and nobody should be expected for any reason whatsoever to grant them license to be so by attending and thus indicating, “I’m okay with this sort of behaviour.”

    Point being, in a so-called “free” society, we are not necessarily obligated to “understand” everyone else and what they do, or who they are. What we are obligated to do, IMHO, is be tolerant of other points of view and opinion…as long as it is within the limitations of the laws of a civil society.

    That said, “tolerance” does not somehow exempt people from obeying the laws of the land. And it certainly does not exempt those in charge of enforcing and/or adjudicating our laws from abrogating their responsibility to society to do so in a fair and equally applied manner.

    Now, try to imagine 10,000 hunters and gun owners on parade in a major city in Canada in support of our rights and beliefs, unloaded hunting rifles equipped with trigger locks slung over their shoulders…which, by the letter of the law as I understand it, would be perfectly legal. Good luck with that one, eh? There’d be SWAT teams from hell, if not half the army, putting the entire lot face down on the ground, and hauling them away in cattle trucks before they got 50 ft!

    Uh, huh.

    • smelter rat says:

      Al, I think if you wanted to host such a redneck parade you could probably get the whole Harper cabinet to lead it, supported by an RCMP colour guard.

    • JStanton says:

      … you are missing the point Al.

      While you and some other firearms enthusiasts choose to define your identity this way, were you to stop shooting and sell your firearms, you would have the option to no longer identify yourself as such.

      Like firearms enthusiasts, some individuals choose to define their identity as principally “gay”. However, were they to stop associating with people of the same sex, or choose to pass as straight, they would be no less queer.

      Which is why gays and conservatives are so much alike; it goes right to the bone, Al, right to the bone.


      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        Not missing the point at all!

        The point is “tolerance”.

        So far on this topic I’ve seen Ford categorically referred to as “homophobic”, and gun owner/hunters as “redneck”.

        Haven’t seen anyone so far, including Conservatives, slur gays.

        Don’t underestimate how important hunting, and related tools of the sport, is to a great many. Goes to the very core of their souls. It’s an expression, even intensely so for some, of freedom. It’s a statement about who and what they are. Which is why there is such passionate and emotionally charged reaction to idiotic crap like gun registries and the like. Such laws, and especially the all too inane rhetoric used to justify them, are taken as personally insulting and deeply offensive to honest, law abiding and generally salt-of-the-earth good people.

        But who really cares, eh? We’re a minority, right? And pretty handy fodder for scoring cheap political points with a majority of voters who are easy pickings for fear mongering with malicious propaganda.

        More specific point being, it’s the double standards that really piss me off.

        Stick up for the rights of everyone! Including the right to disagree, and the right to free speech.

        • Philip says:

          Equating a human being’s sexual orientation with your personal hobby and purchasing preferences is so completely wide of the point, it staggers the imagination. I wouldn’t have believed that any rational being could compare the gun registry in Canada to the long time persecution of homosexuals world wide. I can’t recall the last time a gun owner and hunter was dragged along a Wyoming back road, behind a pickup, beaten and tied to a barbed wire fence then left to die. Having to spend 40 minutes of your time filling out paperwork just isn’t the same as losing your job, being beaten or even killed due to your sexual preference. Trotting your persecution fantasies, isn’t sticking up for free speech. It’s kind of sad.

        • JStanton says:

          … Al, I’m concerned about you. If your longing for a gun in your hand is more than for two girls (or boys) in a bush, then your priorities are just plain wrong.

          Sorry, Al, speaking for myself, I like to shoot as much as the next guy, but, if I had to choose between the two, my shooting-thing would be no contest for my girl-thing. I bet the lads feel the same way.


          • Al in Cranbrook says:


            When I was younger I always found time for both.

            Now that I’m going on ’57…well, let’s just say that I can still count on my rifles.


  9. Lipman says:

    Again, you are the only good part of the Sun (though I like Bono and Mandel’s true-crime stories).

    One good thing about the debate on Ford and Pride is that exposes the debased bigotry of a lot of intolerant Tories.

    This has become a public relations nightmare for Ford, and it probably won’t let up. Toronto is better than this and the next Mayor we elect will be charged with restoring what we had in the past two administrations: respect for all Torontonians and a celebration of everything that makes Toronto a great place to live. But someone will have to emerge over the next couple of years who could take a run at Ford. There are a couple of great possible contenders but it would take a lot of guts.

  10. Jan says:

    You choose to be straight do you, Gord – get behind thee, Satan, is that what it is?

  11. smelter rat says:

    Wrong again Mr. Tulk. The worst PM we’ve ever had just won a majority. The second worst got caught with his fingers in a brown bag full of cash.

    • George in Richmond BC (the other Geoge) says:

      He is the Prime Minister of MY government. He is not MY prime minister.

    • JStanton says:

      No gord, a rapist is not a lover, just because they both appear to go through similar motions.

      Only 24% of the electorate voted for Mr. Harper’s party, of which a substantial portion were Liberals holding their noses. Mr. Harper is not my P.M. – he simply isn’t worthy – although he may be yours.


    • Jan says:

      He’s the Prime Minister, period. If you want to swear some sort of allegiance to him, fill your boots.

    • smelter rat says:

      Was that your point? I thought you were just slagging Liberals you didn’t agree with.

  12. allegra fortissima says:

    If you don’t like it, Mr. Ford, remember it’s mind over matter. We don’t mind it and you don’t matter.


  13. Robert says:

    Why are you spreading the lie? The study also indicated that an extremely small fraction of the Australian population self-defines as “homosexual.” Only .66 percent of women and 1.03 percent of men defined themselves as homosexual. This figure is well below the “statistic” of 10 percent that is often touted by homosexual activists. The extremely low percentage of homosexuals in the population agrees with the findings of other similar studies in Western countries. Look it up please!!! 15%? Please, facts are facts, none of this agenda crap lie.

    • JStanton says:

      … Yeah, well its bullshit. One of my sisters is fucking a doctor, another one a soldier. All of them are women. If you asked them if they were gay, they would not agree. Go figure.


    • Patrick Hamilton says:

      Oh please, the much vaunted “homosexual agenda”…..like we’re out to recruit…..The only “homosexual agenda” I am aware of is trying to get you straights to dress better…..

      I suspect the 10% figure being exclusively gay is a little high myself, but based on the wedding rings Ive seen at bathouses, a figure of 10% including bi-sexuals is not far off the mark…..

    • Mike says:

      Truth is such a ephemeral element in todays news. A learned media consumer has to carefully consider the bias of the source of much we find on the internet. Life Site News is a major pro-life, pro-christian values online news organization. It would not be presumptuous or surprising to suggest they may have a bias against the LGBQT community. To quote their stats as truth is a bit of a stretch for my tastes in media.
      Debating the amount of LGBQT members of society, or Toronto in particular, seems to me to miss the point. A major international cultural festival is being held in Toronto. It lasts a week. The Mayor of Toronto should be present for at least a part of it. To ignore it is not just a slight on the LGBQT people of Toronto but a slight to the entire City. I am neither gay nor a “Torontonian” but find myself disliking Ford more and more with his every action.

  14. Lipman says:

    My girlfriend wants me to come to Pride this year to watch the festivities. Anyone planning on attending?

    I thought we could build a float called the “Gravy Train” as a tribute to the missing Mayor.

  15. Why would anyone want to bring their children to a family event such as the Pride Parade? No child watching naked and semi-naked men, women, and [?] should be exposed to the potential infitrators from Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. That is disgusting–clothed Quaiaers!

    I do suggest that if Rob Ford is unable to attend next year’s Pride parade, Queers and Quaiaers should bring the parade to his cottage.

  16. Pedro says:

    Didn’t Freud once say that a trip to the cottage is sometimes just a trip to the cottage?

  17. DL says:

    I am also vexxed by Warren’s larger point about all these closeted and not-so closeted gay men that tend to find themselves in the higher echelons of the backrooms of rightwing parties that hate them. I also wonder why. What drives a gay man to get actively involved in a political party that explicitly HATES everything that he is? Is it self-hate on the part of the man? What must it be like to John Baird to be sitting at the Tory convention and watching delegates from his party vote almost unanimously in favour of a resolution that the Conservative Party of Canada thinks that gays and lesbians are second class citizens?? No one Black would tolerate being in a party that openly supported segregation and that whites were superior to Blacks. If the Tory party voted in favour of a resolution calling upon Jews to accept Jesus as their personal saviour or face eternal damnation – their would be a mass exodus of Jews from the party. But for some reason – these gay men (notice its almost never lesbians) all seem to have J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn and Ernst Roehm as their role models – and just go along with it.

    Its actually quite sad that these guys are so filled with self-hate that they would join a party that openly hates them. Canada might be a better place if some of these guys booked a few sessions with a psychiatrist to learn to accept themselves – rather than watching the sad spectacle of them trying to work out their personal issues and inferiority complexes about being gay – by being fart-catchers for rightwing homophobic politicians,

    • Warren says:

      I don’t get it either. I used to work with a gay man who was a prominent Conservative. I asked him why he favoured a party that didn’t favour him. His answer was unconvincing, and very much suggested his orientation took a backseat to his politics.

      To each their own, I guess. But I find it difficult to reconcile, too.

    • Patrick Hamilton says:

      I joined the Conservative Party from the PC side which had been open and accepting of the LBGT community. Joe Clark took a lot of flak for riding in the Calgary Pride Parade, but I was very proud to see him attend. I had many reservations about the merger, and was reluctant at first, but was won over eventually. Part of why I was won over was as a result of the sacking of CA MP Larry Spencer for making anti-gay remarks. I thought, perhaps the Reformers had changed. I realize now Mr. Spencer was sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, and was let go simply because Mr. Harper didnt want anything to upset his plans for merger.
      I hung in for about a year after the merger, realizing what a terrible mistake I had made. Imagine being at an executive meeting and being told by a member from the CA side that we couldnt use a certain credit union(even though they were offering us the best rates and service) because they supported the “homosexual agenda”. I should have got up and left that very second, and I am ashamed to say I did not.
      I realized that MP Scott Brison was right in leaving the party. In time, the overwhelming majority of the riding executive from the PC side, including myself, left as well.
      A sad chapter in my life.

  18. dillon says:

    When any politician attends the parade he should either bring his children or grandchildren or stay home. And that goes for Mr Kinsella and his bo Dalton. Stop the hypocracy.

  19. Jan says:

    Today Ford missed the flag raising because he was having a meeting with Brian Burke. Let’s hope Burke served him up a few clues.

  20. Bil Huk says:

    my question is WHY it would appear so many from the LGBT community want Ford there? I know they want the MAYOR to attend, but i don’t know why they want Ford to attend. The glib answer is ‘because he’s mayor’, but that’s like people in 1980s Calgary wanting Trudeau to attend a Stampede parade because he was prime minister.

    he doesn’t appear fond of the LGBT community, and they don’t seem fond of him.

    i doubt anyone ‘outraged’ about the Mayor not attending Pride would want to hang out with him in the first place.

    Pride is probably better off without Ford, and Ford is probably better off without Pride.

  21. Tolerant Bisexual says:

    I suppose I am a member of the LGBTQ community (hence my namesake) but I really don’t care if the mayor does not attend the parade. He would probably get booed anyway, so why should he attend? I’ve been to the parade a couple of times, but I’ve sort of let my enthusiasm for the event lapse over the years.

    I actually voted for Ford, and so did a lesbian family who lived across the street from me. We are probably in the minority among the LGBTQ community who voted for him, but we found his scandals and his ‘bull in a China shop’ demeanor refreshingly hilarious.

    I don’t agree with everything that Ford stands for, but after several years of disconnected elitism by the usual parade of idiotic mayors, I figured that I might as well give someone like Ford a chance to govern.

    • Bil Huk says:

      i think that’s been the sentiment with Ford. Only the truly partisan think he’s going to be an awesome mayor. Most love the shock factor to the municipal political establishment.

      “Look what we’re willing to elect when you piss us off enough”.

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