Canada: Toronto Mayor fresh out of rehab refuses to applaud WorldPride organisers

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Toronto’s controversial mayor has once again come under fire in a council meeting, after he refused to join a standing ovation to praise the organisers of WorldPride Toronto.

Mayor Rob Ford has recently returned from a two-month stint in rehab, following revelations that he had been caught smoking crack cocaine, drink-driving and injecting heroin during his term of office.

He was the only council member who did not stand to applaud the city staff and volunteers who worked on WorldPride, which was held in Toronto at the end of June.

The week-long celebrations included a mass gay wedding, featuring 115 same-sex couples. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly welcomed guests to the event in lieu of Mayor Ford.

WorldPride culminated in a parade which saw over 12,000 people from 350 groups marching through the streets of Toronto.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, the only openly gay member of the council, criticised the mayor after the meeting. She said he had “shown repeatedly he just doesn’t care for this community.”

“I think he has just been very consistent from trying to rip down the rainbow flag, from not attending the Pride marches, he has done everything he can to destroy his relationships with the LGBT community.”

“He couldn’t even stand up to say thank-you,” she added.

Toronto journalist Don Peat tweeted an image of Mayor Ford’s refusal to stand:

Mayor Ford refused to explain his reasons, but told reporters after the meeting: “You guys have asked me this question for 14 years, and you know the answer: I’m not homophobic.”

Mayor Ford has recently come under fire for his failure to attend Toronto Pride Week events. He has previously stated that the event clashed with his annual family holiday, but this year he admitted this was an excuse.

“I’m not going to go to the Pride parade,” the mayor said in June, when asked if he would attend WorldPride. “I’ve never gone to a Pride parade. So I’m not going to change the way I am.”

In February, he objected to a rainbow flag being flown outside Toronto’s city hall, in protest to Russia’s anti-gay laws during the Sochi Winter Olympics.

He said at the time that he was “not homophobic” but that he cared about being “patriotic”, and felt it was more important to continue flying the Canadian flag.

Although Toronto City Council voted before he entered rehab to transfer some of his mayoral powers to his deputy, it does not have the authority to remove Mayor Ford from office.