Rob Ford demands city hall’s Pride flag be removed, then discovers he doesn’t have the authority to remove it

Rob Ford demands city hall’s Pride flag be removed, then discovers he doesn’t have the authority to remove it

(Image: Ford: Christopher Drost; Flag: Les Chatfield)

Things were quiet on the Rob Ford front for a little while after his crack confession, but now it seems as though the mayor is back in his scandal-a-day groove. Today’s outrage: gay issues.

Hot on the heels of declaring that he would never attend Pride, mayor Ford asked today for a rainbow flag to be taken down. The flag had been raised outside city hall in solidarity with gay Russians, whose unfair treatment by the Russian government has gained prominence because of the Sochi Winter Games. “This is the Olympics,” the mayor told reporters. “This is about being patriotic to your country. This is not about your sexual preference.”

Ford eventually said that he could support flying the rainbow flag as long as a Canadian flag was flown as well—except a Canadian flag already flies on a separate flagpole in Nathan Phillips Square, so it remains unclear what he meant by that. Denzil Minnan-Wong backed up the mayor, saying a Canadian flag or Olympic flag would be more appropriate.

A few city councillors have placed rainbow images in their office windows to show support for LBGT struggles in Russia, while deputy mayor Norm Kelly stated that he preferred that the Pride flag remain in place. “There’s no antagonism between the two flags,” he said. “[It] is also a statement that we’re not afraid to stand up for the rights and privileges that are being abused in other parts of the world. So there’s nothing un-Canadian about that. In fact that’s a very Canadian thing to do, to be concerned and care about others.”

Things took a strange turn later in the afternoon when, as reporters waited outside the mayor’s office, two uniformed police officers showed up and met with Ford. For a moment, it seemed possible that the mayor would be charged with a crime—he’s been under police investigation for months, after all—but the Post reports that the officers were there to investigate a threat. It’s unknown whether that threat was related to the flag controversy.

Then, as if to cap off the afternoon, the city manager released a memo confirming that the mayor actually has no say in whether or not the city flies the flag.

Another politician might be worried about the squandered goodwill among gay voters and their friends, but Ford is lucky: he had so little to begin with.