Mayor Ford won't march in Toronto Pride parade

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he will not be marching in this July's Pride parade because it conflicts with long-standing plans to spend that time at his family cottage.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he will not be marching in this July's Pride parade because it conflicts with long-standing plans to spend that time at his family cottage.

"I'm going up north ... I'm going to be up at the cottage," said Ford on Wednesday when asked by a reporter if he would be attending the parade.

Ford told reporters on Wednesday that as much as it's been a tradition for the mayor to march in the parade, it's been a Ford family tradition to head up to the cottage in Huntsville on Canada Day.

"Since I [was] a little boy we always used to go up north to our cottage and I'm carrying on the tradition that my father had," he said, adding he went to the cottage last year during the municipal election campaign.

The Toronto Pride Parade will be held on July 3 and is the culmination of the city's well-known Pride Week, a 10-day festival celebrating sexual diversity in downtown Toronto.

Former Mayor David Miller and his predecessor Mel Lastman both attended the parade.

Coun. Krystyn Wong-Tam personally invited Ford to the parade, offering to have him participate as a member of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Gays and Lesbians). She told CBC News she was disappointed he will not attend.

"There is a message being sent that you are mayor of certain types of people and not everyone is welcome to Rob Ford's City Hall," she said.

Coun. Janet Davis called Ford's decision an "appalling embarrassment."

"By refusing to attend Pride, I think the mayor has sent a very clear message that the LGBT is not welcome here in Ford's city."

Wong-Tam pointed out that the parade is only one part of Pride Week and said she hopes the mayor can find time in his schedule for other events.

"Pride week is literally a 10-day-long celebration," said Wong-Tam. "If the mayor can't fit the parade in his calendar, perhaps there's another event he can participate in. He can't be busy for the 10 solid days."

A study commissioned by the city determined the festival, the largest of its kind in Canada, generated 600 jobs and $94.3 million for the city economy in 2009.

The study also found the festival generated $4.1 million in municipal taxes that year.