Toronto Councillor Michael Thompson says Mayor Rob Ford still owes the city’s diverse communities an apology for offensive comments he has made.
“When you recognize that the city’s motto is ‘diversity is our strength’ and recognize that over 47 per cent of the population of the city of Toronto are immigrants or people from somewhere else,” Mr. Thompson said, “… I think that it’s incumbent on such individuals to ensure that they respond appropriately by at least offering an apology. It would go a long way.”
Mr. Thompson, the only black councillor at City Hall, was asked about the mayor’s comments at a press conference for the launch of Summerlicious – also attended by Mayor Ford Thursday morning.
The mayor, back this week after a two-month stint in rehab for substance abuse, has apologized for alcohol and drug use in office and issued a blanket apology this week to “everyone who was hurt by my words and actions.” But he has not apologized directly for the racial and homophobic slurs he has been recorded saying. On multiple recordings published in the media throughout the past year, the mayor has been heard using sexually explicit and derogatory language to describe the Italian, black and gay communities.
Instead, in a televised interview with CBC, he blamed the comments on his substance use, saying, “You do things. You say things that just aren’t you.”
But Mr. Thompson reacted with skepticism, acknowledging that he is not an expert, but questioning whether the comments could be wholly attributed to addiction. “I think that it is certainly not as easy as that,” he said. “I think there is a real need to further investigate and determine whether or not the contributing cause that’s been expressed is such.”
Aside from interviews with two major broadcasters Wednesday, the mayor has not responded to reporters’ questions, refusing to stop for members of the media camped outside his office and waiting for him at public events. At Thursday morning’s Summerlicious press conference, he arrived late at the Yorkville restaurant hosting the event, and left through the kitchen and out the back door.
The mayor also refused to respond to questions during a second press conference Thursday morning for the Cricket Across the Pond program, posing for photos with the teenaged cricket players and their parents, but ignoring the gathered reporters.
As he led the group of cricket players into his office for a tour after the event, the mayor was asked whether he is a good role model for the youth.
The mayor ignored the question, instead telling reporters, “I support the youth 100 per cent.”