Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Mayor Rob Ford requests Pride flag taken down at Toronto city hall
Ford confirmed that he still objects to the rainbow flag that was raised last week to show solidarity with Russian gay rights advocates during the Olympics.
“The bottom line is, again, this is about the Olympics, this is about supporting our athletes,” Ford said Tuesday. “The number of calls I’m getting is overwhelming - they want the Canadian flag there.”
A heckler called Ford a “homophobe” during the press conference and he threatened to walk away before answering one more question.
“I have done everything I can to get the Canadian flag back up where it should be to represent all Canadians whether they are gay or straight - to me it is irrelevant,” he said.
The Pride flag replaced a City of Toronto flag that normally flies on the city’s courtesy flag pole when a specific flag, requested by non-profit or charitable organizations, is not up on the flagpole.
City officials provided an e-mail sent by the mayor’s chief of staff, Dan Jacobs, moments after Ford spoke with reporters asking city manager Joe Pennachetti to remove the flag.
“This note is on behalf of the Mayor. He is requesting that the Rainbow flag be removed from the protocol flagpole, and be replaced with the Canadian Flag, in order to show support for all Canadian athletes,” Jacobs wrote.
Pennachetti responded that the request to raise the Pride flag complied with the city’s rules around the use of the courtesy flag pole and will stay up.
“As you are aware, our large Canadian flag already flies on the main flagpole on Nathan Phillips Square, and at all civic centres,” Pennachetti added.
On Friday, Ford raged against the city putting up the Pride flag during the Olympics and placed a Canadian flag in his office window.
Irene Miller, of Toronto Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), called Ford’s flag flap “a waste of time and energy.”
“It’s a flag, it is a symbol of hope to a lot of people,” Miller said. “He had no problem with it going up on (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia Day) in the past, I’m not sure why he would object to it going up now.
“We’re showing solidarity with families like ours, like mine, in Russia.”
Miller - who met with Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly on Tuesday - wouldn’t speculate on whether Ford was homophobic but pointed to reports that in his infamous crack-smoking video he uses a homophobic slur.
“To my knowledge we are still waiting for an apology for that,” she said.
Kelly said he supports keeping the Pride flag up.
“I think that the flag should stay and I would suggest to you that that is the will of council as well,” he said.
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