Toronto Mayor Rob Ford demands removal of Pride flag from City Hall

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — who has steadfastly refused to attend the city's massive, economically vital and glorious Pride parade — has pitched a tantrum over the decision to fly a rainbow flag from the auxiliary flagpole at City Hall. The flag was raised in solidarity with LGBT activists and athletes in a project led by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam at the request of Pride House TO. Ford says he tried to get the flag removed, and has pasted Canadian flags over his office window and the doors of city hall.

Wong-Tam characterises this as evidence of Ford's long-suspected homophobia, which strikes me as extremely plausible. The article in the Globe and Mail points out that Ford recently told reporters that he would not attend Pride festivities even if he was not away with his family, this being Ford's usual excuse for missing it.

Wong-Tam hypothesizes that Ford has "let it all hang loose" and other councilors agree. I wonder if he thinks a dog-whistle for the city's bigots will win him votes come election day.

Earlier this week, Mr. Ford told an all-candidates meeting that he would not attend this year's Pride events when Toronto hosts World Pride Day. He has never attended the city's Pride parade, but has said it is because of family obligations.

At the time, Councillor Shelley Carroll described those remarks as "thinly veiled" homophobia, but Friday she said the mayor "took away all pretenses and all nuance."

"It's kinda not thinly veiled any more. Yes, this stubbornness really speaks to homophobia," she said.

Earlier this week, Councillor Doug Ford said his brother the mayor is not homophobic and that he has gay friends.

Councillor John Parker said "the fact that that flag is flying at this time when the world is outraged at the comments and behaviour of Vladimir Putin suits me just fine. I'm sorry that Rob Ford has decided to align himself with Vladimir Putin."

Councillor Sarah Doucette vowed to fight any attempt by the mayor to take the flag down, saying councillors have told the city manager they want it kept up. "It was asked for in the correct way. It was authorized in the correct way. Should one person – okay, he's the mayor – should he be allowed to dictate what flags fly there? No," she said.

Rob Ford wants rainbow flag removed from Toronto's City Hall [Elizabeth Church, Marcus Gee and Jill Mahoney/The Globe and Mail]

(Image: Where's Ford?, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from ryanready's photostream)