Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Friday Wrap: Toronto shouldn't have to wonder if the mayor is a homophobe

By: Metro Canada Published on Fri May 11 2012

To end the week, a look at some of the other stories bouncing around City Hall.

Is Rob Ford a homophobe? No one can really answer that question one way or another. And that's the problem.

The mayor's latest failure on this front? Turning down, for the second year in a row, an invitation to attend a flag-raising ceremony held by the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17. Not only is the ceremony set to take place at City Hall—the place where, um, the mayor works—it will also feature Leafs GM Brian Burke as a speaker.

The event is tailor-made for a Ford appearance. It's a solemn, dignified thing held steps from the mayor's office. And there's a hockey guy there! The mayor loves hockey.

Ford says he's too busy.

I appreciate that the mayor has a lot on his schedule, but he's repeatedly demonstrated an ability to make time for important events. Per Jonathan Goldsbie's Rob Ford Agenda columns, Ford has, in the last month alone, attended everything from an athletic banquet at George Brown College to a ceremony at Pearson held to commemorate a new airport sign. He also made some time to meet Donald Trump, eat a couple of cheeseburgers at McHappy Day and hang out at a go-kart track with members of the Toronto Police Service.

The bar is set pretty low. The mayor doesn't have to do much to prove he's not a homophobe. And yet still he lets the question persist.

Surprising no one, the police said this week that they won't lay any charges again Star reporter Daniel Dale in the wake of his confrontation with Ford at the mayor's house last week. Nice to know it's still not illegal to stand on public property in Etobicoke.

Ford continues to say he won't participate in any interview scrums where Dale is present, but others in the City Hall press gallery aren't likely to stand for that. Failing that strategy, Ford may just decide to ignore the press altogether — as he did Monday at an event held to celebrate World Press Freedom Day.

Toronto's so-called “bag tax”, which isn't really a tax, was back in the news this week. Councillor Michelle Berardinetti is looking to pass a motion that would ask retailers to donate revenues from the mandatory fee back to the city to support environmental causes.

In terms of overall city revenue, her motion isn't likely to amount to much more than spare change, but it's a worthwhile endeavour all the same. The bag bylaw, which the city doesn't even enforce, is so ingrained in the culture of most retailers at this point that they won't ever go back to offering free bags. The city might as well do all it legally can to wring some revenue out of the deal.

Ford still says he'll eliminate the fee, but he doesn't have anywhere near the votes on council to do so. It'd be fun to see him try.

This post was originally published at on 2012-05-11T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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