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Gender Block: What we’d really like Rob Ford to apologize for

Hillary Di Menna

Yesterday Toronto’s mayor admitted on his radio show that he has made  “mistakes.” By now, the whole world (literally) knows that Ford is embroiled in a substance abuse scandal; beyond the vague-sounding “mistakes” there is, of course, the video in which it appears Rob Ford is smoking from a crack pipe. But what about the rest?  If it were up to us, Ford’s apology list would start way back in 2001—and much of it’s to do with his take on gender and sexuality.

First up: when he questioned whether a video about homosexuality should receive city grant money: “I have no problem giving money out to physically or mentally handicapped children or seniors, but spending $5,000 on this video is disgusting, it is absolutely disgusting to spend this amount of money on this, whatever it was called, video.”

Then, in 2006 at a Leafs game he asked a man if he wanted his “little wife” to be raped and shot in Iran.  The year before, he spoke out at a council meeting while discussing grants for transgender individuals: “I don’t understand. No. 1, I don’t understand a transgender, I don’t understand, is it a guy dressed up like a girl or a girl dressed up like a guy? And we’re funding this for, I don’t know, what does it say here? We’re giving them $3,210?”

Since 2008 calls have been made to the police by Ford’s wife, Renata, as well as her mother, reporting the mayor’s alleged abuse. (The charges were later dropped.)

He’s called fellow female politicians a waste of skin and allegedly groped mayoral race rival Sarah  Thompson.

Oh, and, he’s also said many things like this: “If you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won’t get AIDS, probably.”

Drug addiction and alcoholism—for anybody—is an illness; sexism, homophobia and abuse are not. If we’re going to scrutinize Ford, let’s take the time to examine his entire terrible track record. Certainly, we’d like an apology for his sense of entitlement, which seems to make him believe it is OK to tell women to get raped or deny opportunities to others according to their sexual orientation.

Hillary Di Menna is a former This Magazine intern. Check out her new blog Gender Block every Monday at




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