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Careful with Rob Ford

Careful with Rob Ford

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Let's not be too hasty to congratulate Toronto's mayor for his reading skills
If there's one city in which its mayor should proclaim, in front of world media, a theme day specifically intended to highlight discrimination against sexual minorities with the intention of turning not just judicial and legislative wheels but also the hearts and minds of those who harbour irrational hate for queer people, Toronto is it. But Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has never been a friend to queer communities and has in the past steadfastly refused to attend queer events, especially Pride Week celebrations. His appearance at the city proclamation event for the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on May 17 is a good thing, I suppose; a good thing for queer communities.

After saying he wouldn't attend the IDAHO event, effectively assuring himself that few critics or hecklers would show up, Ford stepped under the warming May sun before a podium at Toronto City Hall and the assembled crowd of queer people and their allies to read from a framed copy of the proclamation:

"I Mayor Rob Ford, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby claim May 17, 2012, as a day against homophobia and transphobia in Toronto and encourage the people of Toronto to send a strong message to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited and transsexual communities – like all the communities are welcome, safe and valued in this great city we call Toronto."

He kind of stammered through the piece, flubbing a few words, but he got it out in the end.

"I think that the mayor has really demonstrated tremendous leadership today," Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam told Xtra reporter Andrea Houston. "I think he should be congratulated. It's a very positive day; it's an upbeat day. I don't want to take anything away from him . . . I'm pleased that he showed up."

It was a sentiment echoed by many queer people there. I, incidentally, was not there, but I notice that missing from the media coverage of the event – missing entirely from Xtra's coverage  – is the context of Ford's record, his past conduct with respect to queer people, and even the history behind IDAHO.

IDAHO was born as part of an international conference on LGBT human rights held during the first World Outgames in Montreal in the summer of 2006. The product of that conference was the Declaration of Montreal, the final clause of which called on countries of the world and the UN to recognize and promote IDAHO. Then-Toronto mayor David Miller issued the first IDAHO proclamation in the city. Toronto has issued the same proclamation each year since, including in 2011 after Ford became mayor.

Ford was in the news in 2006, too. On April 15 that year he was thrown out of a Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre after a confrontation with a man in the crowd in which he blustered, "Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?" On May 23 that year he cast the sole vote in council against installing three roadway banners, at virtually no cost to the city, welcoming participants to the International AIDS Conference held in Toronto later that summer. On June 28 that year, in a debate about city funding for community-based HIV prevention programs, Ford told council, "If you're not doing needles and you're not gay, you won't get AIDS probably." He voted against the motion at hand then, too. During the 2010 mayoral election campaign, Ford sort of strangely apologized for the remark and his record on HIV issues, but, once elected, he voted against city funding for gay-specific HIV prevention programs. And, of course, one of his first acts as mayor was to call for a review of city spending that included deep cuts to virtually every queer-related institution that takes city money. And we should all be familiar with Ford's crusade against Pride. Last year, Pride Week was added to the list of city proclamations only after the city was reminded to do so in the media less than two weeks before the event.

Forgiveness is nice. Ford should have the chance to turn over new leaves with respect to queer people, and queer people should be magnanimous about it when and if his gestures are meaningful and sincere. Let's just not forget who we're talking about here as we congratulate him on his reading skills.

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Comments

Direct from City Hall
Dear Gang…..Releasing our intinery for July 1st weekend. Mother, Doug and I will not… repeat not… be attending the flag – raising Monday at City Hall with all those lefty-lesbo types. I will be meeting with Vic Toews to discuss city internet surveillance. Doug says to let that panty-waist Gord Perkes do the honours. Hopefully Adam Vaughn will get his neck caught in the rope. Ha..Ha…Ha…We plan to skip town next Friday at 1pm for the cottage. Loads of work to do. The new out- house we put in last summer has already sunk so we’re gonna hoist her up. We’re also gonna clean up the dead squirrels that people threw at the cottage last winter. And Doug wants to find out where that rotten smell is coming from. Gino and Blair will attend Pride and video-tape people. Doug says he smells “clawback”.
Talk is cheap. Money on the other hand...
I have a fiscally-conservative friend who is convinced (deluded?) that Mr. Ford has turned over a new leaf(!) I told this friend that actions speak louder than words, and Mr. Ford doing the very least that is expected of him will not convince me that he has suddenly changed his personal views. Maybe if he made a substantial contribution a glbtq charity or sport team, but I'm not holding my breath.
QuAIA should go protest in Israel.
BoBo. Palestinians do want their own country and have the right to have it. Israel has been slowly stealing their land with new settlements. This is what the whole world is protesting, not Jewishness. Ironically, according to Israeli newspapers, interviews of Palestinians who live on the Israeli side want to remain Israeli citizens and want to continue living on the Israeli side. They think life is better in Israel than in Gaza or the West bank or in a future independent Palestine. However, none of this is relevant to the Toronto Pride Parade. QuAIA should go protest in Israel.
What!
Joe I never said they were not jewish, I was saying they seem to want to impose the One State solution. Also Palestinians do not want to be Israelis and want their own country opposite what most Anti Israel Organizations want. Did you even watched the interview with Norman Finkelstein?
Against Israeli Apartheid movement mostly Jewish
BoBo means stupid. Many members of the QuAIA are Jewish. Many of the “Against Israeli Apartheid” -AIA- movement around the world are Jewish. The QuAIA are just a tiny portion of the larger AIA movement. They do NOT want to end Israel. They are criticizing the Israeli government's handling of Palestinian issues. The Jewish AIA movement is like Canadian citizens criticizing Canada over the treatment of Aboriginal people --yet they still love Canada-- they just want to improve Canada. Like Israel has been criticized by the United Nations (and other nations worldwide) about their breaches of accords and treaties with Palestinians, the UN has also criticized Canada over our treatment of Aboriginal people. Harper now is riding roughshot over Aboriginal lands to build the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Israel is stealing Palestinian land by building settlements on Palestinian land in the WestBank. Do you see the parallel situation of Canada and Israel? While Jewish and Israeli citizens do have the right to criticize Israeli policies, the Israeli/Palestinian situation has no relevance in the Toronto Pride Parade. The Pride Parade should include only LGBT related issues, such as Gays being executed in Iran and Russia banning Gay Parades, etc.
K but QuAIA is apart of the BDS Cult
The QuAIA like other anti Israel organizations are a cult since the do not want Israel to exist as a Jewish Nation since they want to impose the one state solution and create another Yugoslavia. They have stated this many times in the past and is even on their website.

Also they are nothing but a cult as descirbed by Norman Finkelstein in a interview known as "Arguing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign"
(https://vimeo.com/36854424. He is saying why BDS is a failure since most anti Israel groups like the QuAIA want Israel to be gone since they do not recognize Israel right to exist as a Jewish Nation. I guess the QuAIA cult are blind from from that as with most Anti Israel Groups and even Xtra.
re: Rob Ford over QuAIA
David

What a ridiculous remark. As if QuAIA 'hates' your or anyone else's 'guts'. Critiquing Israel politically does not equal anti-Semitism. Wrap your head around it.
Queer and beyond
Thanks Matt for your careful reporting and assembling of the facts on Ford's actions in the past and for an important perspective about the picture that emerges from these important events, actions and words on the part of the Mayor regarding the LGBT/queer community. The legacy of his inaction, prejudice and misinformed decision-making should not be obliterated by any last minute decision, perhaps taken reluctantly, where the Mayor knew he could score queer brownie electoral points with those who are all too willing to grant him way more than he deserves. But it also raises the issue, especially when certain sectors of the queer community are so willing to lever praise his way over such an anemic symbolic gesture by the Mayor, over Ford's role in broader issues of public governance, such as privatization, public housing issues and corporate-led development. Getting beyond strictly "identity-defined" LGBT/queer community issues in my opinion, should also be part of the overall assessment and anlayis by queers journalists and activists.
Don't forget what Rob Ford id really like.
It was great to see Rob For attend the day against homophobia flag raising in Toronto. But I hope the Gay & lesbian communinty is not fooled by his appearance. Remember this guy does not like gay or lesbian people or their lifestyle. The only reason he showed up is because he's in desparate need of votes for the next mayors election.
He knows full well he will not be getting votes from unionized workers in the public sector as he has attacked them with all his cuts. He has also made it quite clear he would not attend the Pride celebrations. I only hope for the sake of Toronto's future that this train wreck of a mayor is not re-elected and we get a moyor who is for all Toronto citizens whether they are gay, straight or bi. Please don't forget what Rob Fords real agenda is, to fool the gay community into voting for him next time.

Peace.
Getting over the Rainbow
Let’s face it Mayor Ford wasn’t any pressure to attend. He’s a politician. What Politician doesn’t like publicity? At least this event was called the Pflag/IDAHO Day. Although I have no idea what the IDAHO flag actually looks like, since it wasn’t shown in any pictures... The Mayor should NOT attend Rainbow Flag rising in June which should be called The Pride Toronto Flag. THE PT corporate flag only represent a small segment of queers living working and playing in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood. I cannot understand how Pride Toronto says they represent all gay when opposite is true. The rainbow flag only represent’s gay people that love Pride Toronto. The man who invented the rainbow flag considers himself the Betsy Ross of the gay movement; I like to think of him more as the Holly Hobbit of it. The rainbow flag/bumper sticker/windsock aesthetic--the neighborhood covenants with which all homosexual citizens must comply--is only partly about rainbows. It's mostly about insecurity, with 30 years worth of accumulated tchotchkes seeming to argue that being gay is a whole lot like being a fifth-grade school boy. So much purple, so much pink, so much My Pretty Pony and Rain-bowbrite. We've moved on. The hardest thing about being accepted by the rest of the world is that we can no longer identify with our windsocks; we cannot take refuge in our bawdy refrigerator magnets. Gays and lesbians have come to realize that The Wizard of Oz is increasingly useless as both theology and security blanket. When you get over the rainbow, you get over the rainbow.

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