Last week I found myself unexpectedly in the centre of yet another Rob Ford controversy. I have received a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, after sharing the video clip that started it all. Below is the content of a letter that I will be sending, along with copies of my book, to members of Toronto City Council:
I was more than pleased to speak on behalf of the Toronto Public Library at the executive committee meeting held at City Hall on Thursday, July 29th. Overall, I found the events of the marathon meeting to be inspiring and a wonderful representation of our vibrant, diverse, and passionate city. However, after giving my deputation at 4:25 on Friday morning, I was informed of a comment made by Mayor Ford during the question period. After Councillor Davis asked me the title of my book, to which I responded “Words That Start With B,” Mayor Ford can be heard muttering on the audio feed, “I can think of another word for her.” If you have not seen it, this clip is widely available online and has been reported on by various news sources.
It is unclear whether the comment was directed at me or Councillor Davis. It is clear, however, that a derogatory, sexist comment was made towards a woman present by the chair of the meeting, who also happens to be the mayor of Toronto. I am disappointed and deeply concerned about the lack of respect and decorum displayed by the leader of our city. Regardless of a person’s politics or stance on the budget, I think everyone can agree that inferring that a deputant or a councillor is a bitch is disrespectful and unacceptable.
In response, I am sending Mayor Ford as well as every member of City Council a signed copy of my book, Words That Start With B. Among many things, it discusses bullying, bravery, and hope. Given the events of Friday morning, it seems particularly relevant reading material. My hope is that the themes of my book will resonate with you, and that after reading it you will show your support to the Toronto Public Library by donating your copy to a branch within your ward.
Although I am interested in politics, I would never describe myself as a politically active person, at least not before last week. I feel passionately about the library and was happy to say my piece at the executive committee meeting. I am where I am today because of the presence of libraries in my life. If you live in Toronto and have not yet signed the petition, you can do so here.