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My Gay Toronto - MGT Hot Topics

Mayor Rob Ford is set to break one long-standing tradition in order to keep another.

The first-term mayor said on Wednesday that he would not attend Toronto's annual Pride parade on July 3, breaking a tradition carried on by his predecessors.

Ford told reporters at a news conference that he will instead be joining his family at an annual Canada Day trip to his cottage in Huntsville.

"I'm going up north. I've been doing it for 30 years. We celebrate Canada Day up north, and that is where I will be," Ford told CTV Toronto.

He added that he also plans to keep up with his cottage tradition in the future.

Former mayors Barbara Hall, Mel Lastman and David Miller maintained the tradition of marching in the parade by appearing at the event during their tenures.

Ford's announcement that he would skip the 10-day event, including the flag raising at City Hall, raised the ire of the gay and lesbian community on Thursday.

"I am really disappointed the mayor had decided not to attend. I think it would have been a really great opportunity for him to signal some really solid support for the lesbian and gay community," said Francisco Alvarez, co-chair of Pride Toronto.

"I don't think that it has been there, coming from the mayor's office during this term."

Coun. Kristin Wong-Tam, who is openly gay, says it was a bad judgment call and sent the wrong message to the gay and lesbian community.

"I think we were all hoping that the chief magistrate, who is elected to represent all Torontonians, would come out and support a very large and sizeable community," she said. "I'm personally not surprised."

Since taking office, Ford has marched in a number of city parades, including the Toronto Santa Claus parade and the Beaches Easter parade, but has never committed to marching in the Pride parade.

Pride Toronto will run from June 24 to July 3.

Councillor Frances Nunziata will represent the mayor during the Pride flag raising on June 27.

Coun. Paula Fletcher said that, as mayor, Ford needed to rise above his own biases and represent the city.

Pride organizers say not coming this year is a bad sign of what is to come. Toronto plays host to World Pride Day in 2014, and they are hoping the mayor will be there to show pride in his city.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness

ctvtoronto.ca

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