Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he didn't know he was taking photo with Hells Angels
“I take pictures with every single person that wants to take a picture with me. So if they put it up on the website what can I do? I wasn’t aware that I was taking a picture with the Hells Angels,” Ford said.
The photo was snapped at the Buffalo Bills game on Sunday and has since been posted on the club’s Toronto chapter website. It shows Ford smiling in his blue Bills jersey alongside three men who are identified as “Nick” and “Adam” from the Westridge, Alberta club and “Cory,” a prospective member in Toronto.
None of the men are wearing any obvious insignia.
“I took probably… probably close to a 1,000 pictures before the game, during the game at half time, up in the box that they put me in, after the game. How am I supposed to know who’s who? Seriously?” Ford said. “I don’t check for people’s credentials and ask for resumes before I take a picture.”
This isn’t the first time a Toronto mayor has landed in hot water, because of the notorious biker club.
In 2002, former mayor Mel Lastman caused a fury after shaking hands with members of the Hells Angels — who were wearing full gang colours — at the club’s annual convention.
At the time, the Hells had only been in Ontario for a year. Lastman said he was trying to show goodwill, urging them to behave.
"Then a guy comes up to me ... and he's wearing a Hells Angels jacket and I said to him, 'Why don't you prove me wrong and the people of Toronto wrong and the newspapers wrong and show us that you guys are great and you're not here to make trouble.' He says, 'We're definitely not here to make trouble,’” Lastman said at a press conference.
“He put out his hand and I shook his hand. Please understand, I've never turned my back on anybody who gave me their hand. In retrospect, maybe I did the wrong thing, I don't know… Look, I was naive.”
This is Ford’s third toy drive since taking office and last year’s was even more awkward. At 10:30 a.m. on November 26, 2012, Justice Charles Hackland’s conflict of interest ruling was released. The judge found Ford had broken the rules and would have to leave office. Two hours later, the mayor told reporters he would be appealing and that his supporters could count on him to fight “tooth and nail” to keep his job. Shortly after, Ford headed to the city hall rotunda to kick off the toy drive, while a group of preschoolers looked on.
This year, no children were invited. City staff was concerned for their safety given the media attention around the mayor. Ford was also half an hour late.
The toy drive runs from now until Tuesday, December 24. You can drop off new, unwrapped toys, and gift cards at half a dozen locations around the city, including: city hall, metro hall, and each of the civic centres in Etobicoke, North York, East York, Scarborough and York.
Organizers say that there are not often enough gifts for infants and teenagers. Grocery store gift cards are also appreciated.
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