Doug Ford responded Monday to comments made on the mayor's radio show that linked homosexuality to AIDS, but passed up an opportunity to condemn them, saying only that he wouldn't have made the remarks himself.
The Sun News Network's David Menzies made the controversial statements Sunday while doing a guest spot on the weekly broadcast that Councillor Doug Ford (Etobicoke North) co-hosts with his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, on Newstalk 1010.
As part of a discussion about the mayor's ongoing feud with the Toronto Star, Menzies charged that Toronto media has a history of attacking Rob Ford for being overweight and speculated on what would have happened if reporters had gone after former mayoral candidate George Smitherman for being openly gay.
"Could you imagine if... I went to George Smitherman and I said, ‘You know what, George, being a practising homosexual and [given] the fact that you've been involved with all kinds of illicit drug use, how do we know you won't engage in high-risk sex and drug use that will bring about HIV, leading to AIDS, [and] you'll die in office?'" Menzies said. "I would be run out of town on a rail! Oh no, we can't say that!"
In 2006 Smitherman admitted to a five-year struggle with "party drugs."
The Fords' sat silent through much of Menzies's segment on Sunday, although they could be heard laughing at jokes he made about several of their opponents on council.
"That's phenomenal," the mayor said to Menzies at one point.
Asked Monday if he thought in hindsight that he should have criticized Menzies while still on the air, Councillor Ford expressed no regrets.
"He made his comments, he's a guest and it's up to him to make those comments," he said. "I know Rob and I, we wouldn't have made those comments."
Councillor Ford's response didn't go nearly far enough for Councillor Gord Perks, however. A frequent critic of the Fords' agenda, Perks said in an interview that Menzies's outburst was hateful and the mayor and his brother should have condemned it immediately.
"If you host a radio show and somebody says homophobic things on it, you as a host should tell them right then it's unacceptable," Perks said. "End of discussion, period."
"The mayor's decision not to challenge or come back at his guest's vicious language shows a lack of character and judgment... the mayor did not exercise his responsibility, and let all of Toronto down."
Rob Ford has already alienated many in Toronto's gay community for refusing to attend the annual Pride Parade two years in a row. While every mayor since amalgamation has gone to the parade, Ford didn't attend a single event during the 10-day Pride Week last year. He announced last month that he'll be spending the 2012 parade at his cottage with his family, but has not ruled out attending one of the other Pride events.