There’s a certain method to Rod Ford’s latest homophobic madness, whether or not the rest of Canada’s political chattering classes choose to recognize it.
In North America and western Europe, accepting gays and lesbians as part of society is pretty much a given. When the rainbow flag flies at the Legislature, it’s at the behest of a premier whose party 10 years ago railed against Crown corporation sponsorship of a gay/lesbian film festival. We’ve come a long way – or so we’d like to think. Except that when the Regina Leader-Post did an on-line poll asking people what they thought of this, the comments ran about 80-20 against, with most of the opposition wanting the pink triangle brigade stoned in the streets (In yesterday’s editorial, the L-P offered The Wag Of The Finger).
Rob Ford’s district – the base of Ford Nation – is, however, comprised of immigrants from areas of the world – mostly Africa and some from eastern Europe – where homosexuality is still seen as a threat (to whom? Whatever. It’s still a threat to them). So it doesn’t matter whether Rob Ford’s homophobia is part of his neurotic personality, a carefully contrived political agenda, or both. If it gets him votes, he’ll take it. It doesn’t matter that he’ll be bringing embarrassment to a city that’s hosting the World Pride Festival (and, we may add, all the business opportunities and tourist dollars such events bring in).
And one of those who will be watching what effect this will have in next October’s mayoralty election? Stephen Harper, who knows that his party’s re-election will be won or lost in the 905 region – that area that rings Toronto like a ring around a bathtub.
When Ottawa city council voted to fly the rainbow flag last week, one person blasted the mayor for the decision on his Twitter account. Mayor Jim Watson replied that if he feels that way, Watson didn’t want his vote. Rob Ford has no such scruples, and Stephen Harper will be watching from the sidelines, using Toronto’s civic vote next October to decide whether or not to unleash the Reform-A-Tories’ dogs of homophobic war in 2015.