Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cheers, jeers for Toronto mayor Rob Ford at Canada Day parade

TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford was dogged by fans and detractors as he made a series of public appearances on Canada Day — a day after returning from a stint in a Muskoka rehab.

Flanked by staffers and volunteers holding “Ford for Mayor” placards, supporters cheered while residents — who did not appreciate his presence as he walked in the East York Canada Day parade — jeered.

“Answer one of the million questions people have!” a shirtless man repeatedly yelled at Ford along the parade route, prompting campaign manager and brother Doug Ford to react.

“Every once in a while you get a nutcase out there, needs a little anger management,” Councillor Ford said to reporters. “I don’t go chasing socialists down the street shouting and screaming at them.”

Cries of “Go back to rehab!” mixed in with “Welcome back Mr. Mayor!” as Ford stopped to shake hands with supporters and take photos with children, lifting them up on his shoulders.

But two women who booed him along the route chalked up much of the support to residents simply having good manners.

“I don’t think there’s much support for Mayor Ford in East York,” Donna Tozzi said.

“I think people are just being polite,” Andrea Geboers added.

When asked why he wouldn’t take any questions after making his post-rehab statement on Monday, Ford simply said: “With all due respect, it’s about Canada Day today, OK. I’ll be more than happy to answer questions another day but today’s about Canada Day.”

His brother insisted “every major media outlet” will get a chance to eventually sit down with the mayor for one-on-one interviews.

“This isn’t the time and the spot, and we’re going to give you guys a good opportunity.”

Mayoral rival Olivia Chow said there are “some apologies that he still needs to make, especially to people in diverse communities.”

John Tory — another major contender in the mayoral race — said he was “prepared to give him Canada Day off.”

“But (Wednesday), he’s got a lot to answer for,” he said.

All three mayoral candidates had jam-packed itineraries on Tuesday, attending some of the same events.

Ford was well received when he took the stage at the annual Scotiabank CHIN Picnic. Dozens of people crowded around him for photographs. One couple admitted they were not Ford fans and simply wanted a photo with the mayor.

“(People) have pictures taken with Charlie Sheen, too,” Tory pointed out.
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