Half-mayor Rob Ford arrived at Toronto City Hall on Friday furious that a rainbow flag had been raised on top of the building as a political statement during the Winter Olympics.
Toronto was one of a number of Canadian cities that decided to fly rainbow flags for the duration of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as a sign of support for the gay community. Raising the flag in Toronto makes sense; the city hosts this year's World Pride, the global gay pride parade, in June.
Ford could not believe the city would politicize the Olympics, and marched through City Hall holding a Canadian flag. “This is about Olympics, this is about being patriotic to your country; this is not about someone’s sexual preference,” Ford told city hall reporters. “No, I do not agree with putting up the rainbow flag. We should put up the Canadian flag. I put a Canadian flag in my window.” Ford claimed to have filed a complaint with the city manager to replace the rainbow flag with the national one. The city manager decides which flags fly where.
Ford's fury about the flag points to a larger distaste for the homosexual community that thrives in the city he once ruled. Every year, the mayor declines to participate in the annual Gay Pride festivities and instead spends his weekend at his family's cottage out of town.
Earlier this week, the mayor again declined to participate in this year's festivities, despite the global visibility involved with this year's event. “I’m not going to go to the Pride parade,” Ford said at a public event. “I’ve never been to a Pride parade. I can’t change who I am.” Ford normally loves attending events that boost Toronto in the eyes of the international community. He's always ready to stand front and center for the eventual photo op. He could 'change who he is' by staying true to himself, but the gays are involved, so it's hands off.
In the infamous crack video that has yet to surface, he allegedly calls a prominent Canadian federal politician a "fag."
Doug Ford, a fellow city councillor with grander political ambitions, explained his brother's decision to spurn the gays with an excuse only Russians could love:
Let me tell you something, I brought my kids down there, and I wouldn’t bring my kids back when there was buck naked men running down the street. I’m not dissing anyone in the gay community, there’s a lot of great people that make up this city in the gay community, which are friends of mine. But, no, do I condone men running down the middle of Yonge Street buck naked? Absolutely not.
Doug Ford defended his brother to a scrum of Toronto journalists with the same logic Vladimir Putin uses to defend the country's anti-gay propaganda laws. Don't be gay, because think of the children.
City Hall, just after noon today: rainbow flag flying alongside 4 Canadian flags & all provincial/territorial flags. pic.twitter.com/d3QwvOv2uO— Jonathan Goldsbie (@goldsbie) February 7, 2014
What makes this controversy even more infuriating is the fact that it was completely pointless, an attempt from Ford to appease the 20% of Canadians who still don't support gay marriage. Ford never filed a complaint with to replace the rainbow flag either, the city manager told the Canadian Press' Katie Simpson in an email Friday afternoon. Furthermore, the pole flying the rainbow flag usually houses the official City of Toronto flag; the Canadian flag flies at City Hall with the flags of the ten Canadian provinces and three territories. Those flags were not harmed in the raising of the rainbow one that infuriated the mayor. The different flags can, in fact, live together in perfect harmony. Who'da thunk it? Which means there's only one conclusion you can take from this latest display of idiocy.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.