Toronto Mayor Rob Ford may attend city’s Pride parade following criticism

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford appears to be backtracking after saying Wednesday he wouldn't attend the city's massive Pride parade this summer, opting instead for the family's Muskoka cottage.

But following a hailstorm of criticism, the mayor's brother, Coun. Doug Ford, suggested the two may make the parade after all.

"We have 20-odd people going up to our cottage for Canada Day, but if I can make it back I will, and we'll see if I can bring Rob," he said late Wednesday.

Past mayors David Miller, Mel Lastman and Barbara Hall all marched in the parade.

Earlier in the day, Ford said he had a tradition of his own to maintain.

"We've been in Huntsville for the past 30 (years), as long as I remember, since I'm a little boy. We always used to go up north to our cottage and I'm carrying on the tradition that my father had," Ford told reporters at a Toronto Board of Trade event.

Coun. Frances Nunziata will stand in for Ford at the raising of the Pride flag at City Hall on June 27, but there are currently no plans to have anyone replace Ford during the parade should he choose not to attend.

Ford's comments drew harsh criticism from fellow councillors.

Kristyn Wong-Tam, who is gay, called the choice "a grave mistake," while Janet Davis described it as an "embarrassment".

Francisco Alvarez, co-chair of Pride Toronto, was more diplomatic about the news.

"I don't want to read too much into it, he's a very busy guy and has a lot of competing demands. We would have been very happy to see him there. If he never comes, well, I guess we can draw conclusions about that.

Twitter users were also quick to react to the news.

The Globe and Mail's Chris Wilson-Smith tweeted: "In his new role, I think one of those traditions outweighs the other," while the user @Roberttodd posted he didn't want Ford to "walk in the Pride Parade anyway."

Others had a more comedic take on the decision. Referencing the recent depiction of Ford in NOW Magazine, @swimstein tweeted: "#RobFord to be a no-show at #Pride. Maybe he thought he had to wear a Speedo."

While Ford's brother has said the two are "big-time social liberals," the mayor's decision is bound to garner comparisons to social conservatives in the United States. Only time will tell what Mayor Ford's approach to Toronto's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community will be.

Pride week is scheduled to run June 24 to July 3 in Toronto, with the parade taking place on July 3.

(Photo credit: CBC)