TORONTO – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said in a YouTube video released Tuesday that he’s offended by claims he’s homophobic, while his city councillor brother suggested people in the gay community are “bullies.”
The brothers made the comments in the second instalment of their online “Ford Nation” show, consisting of a series of clips of varying lengths in which they slag fellow councillors and take one question.
The query appears to have come via email from “Mary from Scarborough,” who is identified as the mother of a gay son. She referenced Ford’s stance against a rainbow flag at city hall and recent comments about not attending the annual pride parade.
Ford read the question, in which “Mary” suggested Ford is homophobic and asked why people should vote for him if he doesn’t support all citizens.
“I am not homophobic,” Ford said. “I’ll go to anyone’s house, anyone’s place to help them out. I take offence when people say that to me.”
A rainbow flag — a long-standing symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and pride — was raised at city hall earlier this month as the Sochi Winter Olympics began.
Ford said he wanted it taken down. He was told the flag was flown as a gesture to protest anti-gay laws in Russia, but Ford said the Olympics are about patriotism, not “sexual preference.”
“Our Canadian flag should be up there, not the pride flag,” Ford said in his YouTube show.
But the rainbow flag did not replace a Canadian flag. It was put up on a “courtesy” flag pole which otherwise flies the City of Toronto flag. Multiple flag poles around city hall fly the Canadian flag and the city flags at all times.
Rob Ford then turned it over to his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, who suggested the gay community and its supporters are “bullies” to people who don’t attend the annual pride parade.
The mayor had said in the past that he didn’t attend the annual pride parade because of a family tradition of spending the Canada Day long weekend at the cottage. But when asked earlier this month if he was planning to attend this year’s World Pride parade hosted by Toronto, Ford said: “I’ve never been to a pride parade. So I’m not going to change the way I am.”
Doug Ford has said he went to the parade once with his children and described it as an event where “middle-aged men with pot bellies” ran down the street “buck naked.”
“I think it’s good for tourism,” Doug Ford said on the YouTube show. “But don’t try to put a gun to anyone’s head that disagrees with you. It doesn’t mean that they hate gays.”
Rob Ford chimed in by saying “it’s ridiculous,” but his brother was not finished.
“It’s just a bunch of bullying, a bunch of bullies coming after you,” Doug Ford said. “The gay community feels like they’ve been bullied and rightfully so because a lot of times they have, Rob. But don’t come back and try to bully the people that don’t show up and call them homophobic.”
Doug Ford also asked rhetorically, “Do you know how many gay friends that we have?”
Rob Ford, who lost most of his mayoral powers late last year after admitting he’d smoked crack cocaine while in office, and his brother used most of the other videos in Tuesday’s series to go after other city councillors.