TORONTO - Mayor Rob Ford’s office went into full
damage control Thursday after it was revealed Ford posed for a photo with an
alleged neo-Nazi musician in January and then met with him in March to talk
Liberal insider Warren Kinsella called Ford out Thursday on the photo, going
as far to post it on his own website and asking “Why is Toronto’s mayor palsy
with a former neo-Nazi icon?”
Kinsella - who is a regular contributor to the Sun News Network and writes
columns in the Toronto Sun - went on to point out Jon Latvis is a former member
of the neo-Nazi band Rahowa (Racial Holy War).
A Facebook profile under Latvis’ name posted the picture on May 6 with the
caption “Me meeting with Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford to get an endorsement for the
Latvian Homeguard — at Toronto City Hall.” In the photo, Ford is smiling and
wearing his chain of office.
The mayor’s office confirmed the photo was taken at City Hall in January
during the mayor’s New Year’s levee.
George Christopoulos, Ford’s press secretary, stressed Ford didn’t endorse
the “Latvian Homeguard” and condemns all forms of racism.
“The mayor of Toronto meets and poses for photos with thousands of residents
each year,” Christopoulos said. “Over the past two years, he has hosted two New
Year’s levees. Both of these events welcomed thousands of visitors to City Hall.
Many of those visitors were greeted and posed for a picture with the mayor.”
During this year’s levee, Ford shook hands with around 800 people in the City
“I can confirm he did not endorse the Latvian Homeguard,” Christopoulos
In response to questions from the Sun, the mayor’s office issued a statement
Thursday about the photo and revealed the mayor met with the man in March as
“During both the Levee and the March meeting, the gentleman identified
himself using a name different from the one attributed to him in the recent blog
article,” the statement read. “Once the photograph was posted online today,
Mayor’s office staff recognized the individual as someone who had met with the
Mayor at the Levee and again in March.”
“At no time was the Mayor aware of allegations that this individual had made
racist, hateful or otherwise offensive comments, nor were any such comments made
during his meeting with the Mayor. Mayor Ford is a strong supporter of Toronto’s
Jewish community and strongly deplores anti-Semitism in any form.”
The statement indicated that during the March meeting “the gentleman met
briefly with the Mayor to discuss his concerns which primarily focused on
Ford’s office refused to confirm the exact date of the meeting, where it was
held and who was present.
The mayor’s Twitter account also took up the response to the issue.
Someone tweeted from the mayor’s account arguing with another Twitter user
about what type of uniform the man in the photo was wearing.
“He is wearing a Latvian army uniform - not an SS uniform,” stated a tweet
posted on Ford’s Twitter account Thursday afternoon.
Councillor Josh Matlow said he had no reason to believe the mayor would have
known the beliefs of someone he was meeting at the New Year’s levee.
“I don’t believe the mayor would intentionally meet with a racist,” Matlow
As for the second meeting, Matlow said he expects the mayor will want to “get
to the bottom” of how that happened.
“The mayor might want to speak with his staff to find out how this occurred,”
The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and The Centre for Israel and Jewish
Affairs issued a statement following Ford’s statement applauding the
“We understand the circumstances in which elected officials meet with
thousands of constituents every year, and that it is effectively impossible to
vet each individual,” said David Spiro, greater Toronto co-chair of the Centre
for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “We want to thank Mayor Ford for his quick
response to this matter, and reiterate the fact that we consider the Mayor a
true friend of Toronto’s Jewish community.”