Members of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's family, including his mother, on Thursday publicly defended his decision not to attend the city's Gay Pride Parade.
When asked Wednesday whether he would attend the July 3 parade, Ford said he would continue his family's tradition of being at the cottage in Huntsville during the July 1 long weekend.
A CBC.ca story about Ford's decision triggered more than 600 comments. Many defended Ford's decision, but others said it was a snub to Toronto's gay community.
At a ribbon cutting for an Etobicoke business on Thursday, Ford repeated that he will be at the cottage over the weekend, a longstanding family tradition.
"My family comes first," said Ford. "I'm going up to the cottage. I don't know how much clearer I can be."
Ford's mother defends his decision
Ford's brother Coun. Doug Ford said the controversy surrounding the decision is "ridiculous."
"He's away from his family seven days a week, 18 hours a day," said Ford. "This is the first time we're able to get away with family every year."
Ford's mother Dianne also spoke in support of her son.
"None of the allegations they're saying about him are true," she said. "He just wants to spend time with his family.
Doug Ford also dismissed any notion that is brother is homophobic.
"Tell that to the hundreds of people that he's helped in the gay community," said Ford. "Tell the people that worked on his campaign that are gay."
Former mayor Mel Lastman, who attended the Pride Parade during his term as mayor, said Ford might enjoy the parade if he attends.
"Because of some of the things he's said, maybe he just doesn't want to be embarrassed publicly," said Lastman.
David Miller, Ford's predecessor in the mayor's chair, would not comment on Ford's decision but in a statement emailed to CBC, Miller said he will attend the parade.
"I have attended Pride for many years and marched in it every year as mayor, and most if not all as a councillor prior to being elected mayor," said Miller.
"Diversity is our strength is the city motto; Pride is probably the event where this is most clearly shown," said Miller.
Pride Week is a 10-day festival that kicks off Thursday.
The mayor said he still may attend other Pride-related events, but first has to check his schedule.