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The mind of Rob Ford


The mind of Rob Ford

This is the story of a  strange document passed to me by Councillor Joe Mihevc in mid-July. Dubbed the “pre-Pride report,” Mihevc described it as “commissioned by Mayor Rob Ford’s  office before Pride.” There is nothing really new, surprising or even particularly interesting in the document itself. It advises bridge building and dialogue between the mayor and gay people, that sort of thing. (Read it for yourself below.)

But if it’s authentic, it does represent an effort on Ford’s part to work with the city’s queer people. And it raises obvious questions.

Firstly, Ford has so far not followed a single one of the recommendations outlined in the report. In fact, he has done pretty much the opposite. If Ford had sought that advice only to reject every single part of it, it would be interesting and newsworthy.

Secondly, who does Ford turn to when he wants to know about gay people? Who represents our interests to the mayor?

But here’s the thing: Mihevc emailed me the document on the condition that I wouldn’t report the author’s name. He delivered a Microsoft Word document bearing no page numbers, no letterhead, no date and no indication of authorship. It’s short, and the information it contains lacks nuance and detail. It is riddled with spelling and grammar errors.

All that raised suspicions and questions about the document’s provenance and authenticity. So Xtra’s editorial director, Matt Mills, and I decided we needed to learn more about it.

The first order of business was to find out who the author is. Mihevc told me willingly enough, though a promise is a promise.

The author said he wants to remain anonymous because he “does business” with the city, and if he were exposed as an advisor to the mayor on the gay community, he says, relationships could be compromised. He described himself as having a long history of advising city hall, specifically former mayors Mel Lastman and Barbara Hall, on matters pertaining to Toronto’s gay and lesbian communities. He said he is also a freelance writer, having penned several articles on Toronto mayors.

Still, it seems very odd that the identity of somebody who professes to speak for the gay community should be a secret. How can a faceless somebody bear any credibility or gravitas?

The second order of business was to get a comment from the mayor’s office. Ford usually avoids media types, especially me, so I was shocked when he returned my call on the evening of July 21.

He sounded baffled. “What is this? I’m not familiar with this report. I personally get sent hundreds, thousands, of reports to my office.”

“The recommendations were apparently commissioned by your office as a way to bridge the gap and make amends with the gay community,” I told him.

“I don’t have any problem with the gay community,” Ford retorted, as I relayed the background.

He told me to follow up with members of his staff — which went nowhere — and asked me to send him a copy of the document — which I did — and then he rushed me off the phone.

I sighed as I hung up. Regardless of his assertion that he “has no problem with the gay community,” the fact is that Ford displays clear apathy to queer or lefty causes at best and outright hostility at worst, and has for years.

As for the mysterious pre-Pride report, most of the details surrounding it and the questions raised by it will likely remain a mystery.

The larger issue is that Pride has become a red herring issue for the mayor. He makes ideologically based decisions without any public consultation, while ignoring facts and hard evidence. Funding for vital social programs is on the chopping block. The gravy he speaks of will be stripped from the backs of marginalized people, victims of abuse, newcomers, poor seniors, people with HIV, youth at risk, the homeless, hungry children, and queer institutions like ACT, Buddies and The 519.

The people in our city who survive on next to nothing are being asked to make sacrifices so the middle class can be relieved of a $60 vehicle registration tax, and possibly the land transfer tax. This is irresponsible government.

Read the report for yourself: Pride Recommendations[1]
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The bizarre column of Andrea Houston
What a bizarre report by Houston.
-- “a strange document”: Sorry but there’s nothing “strange” about it at all.
-- “passed to me by Councillor Joe Mihevc...described it as “commissioned by Mayor Rob Ford’s office”: Fords office asked for suggestions on what prior mayor Lastman had done so successfully.
--“(it) advises bridge building and dialogue between the mayor and gay people”: Ya, and that’s bad?
-- Ford “has so far not followed a single one of the recommendations”: Ford’s staff sought the advice. Looks like Ford never saw them.
-- “who does Ford turn to when he wants to know about gay people? Who represents our interests to the mayor?”: The reality is, no one. He has virtually no GLBT active political supporters, workers, funders, or fundraisers. No GLBT friends, family, personal relationships. No active GLBT community contact.
-- “riddled with spelling and grammar errors”:The copy she has – & explained to her – was an early draft ... A couple of typos on a document. So what?
-- “raised suspicions and questions about the document’s provenance and authenticity”: There was no “suspicion”. As she was told & chose not to print, it was not the work of a mystery author, or even of one person. As explained, it was the distillation of views of several people, to see a better and more positive relationship between the GLBT community and Ford.
-- “author said he wants to remain anonymous because he ‘does business’ with the city”: The people who contributed have no wish to join the media circus that surrounds Rob Ford. A media circus XTRA is also a part of. No one ever billed themselves “advisors” to the mayor. They are not, nor do they ever wish to be. They do NOT do outreach for the mayor or his office. It was a community service and reflects what Rev. Hawkes said in his Pride worship service that the GLBT not be shut out of City Hall. It’s exactly what a big city mayor should be doing, & what Ford is NOT doing.
An answer to a riddle?
The article states that Councillor Mihevc emailed Xtra the document on the condition that Xtra wouldn’t report the author’s name. Yet, Xtra gives enough clues in this article so that a reader could do a Google search and discover the names of potential authors. For example, could it be Mark Maloney who is writing a history of the mayors of Toronto, writes articles for various publications, is a government relations consultant and does outreach work for the mayor’s office? For instance, see http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontomayoralrace/article/745194--toronto-s-mayors-scoundrels-rogues-and-socialists I’m no fan of Xtra, but I do find it odd that the mystery author is promoting Brent Hawkes as a broker between the mayor and the LGBTQ community. I think Hawkes’ role in the controversy over QuAIA has ended his ability to be an honest broker between Left and Right.
Gay Ford Voter
What does it say about the person who wrote this list that Ford has ignored all their recommendations?

(though, what does it say about Xtra that you endorsed the candidate who also waved a "cuts" banner).
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