Mayoral Candidate Rob Ford Defends Controversial Immigration Comments

Mayoral candidate Rob Ford defends controversial immigration comments

Natalie Alcoba
The National Post
August 18, 2010 11:50 am

Rob Ford is defending comments he made last night at a televised debate after mayoral candidates were asked how Toronto should welcome Tamil migrants.

Right now we cant even deal with the 2.5 million people in this city. I think it is more important to take care of people now before we start bringing in more people, Mr. Ford said during the debate.

Theres going to be a million more people, according to the official plan (which I did not support) over the next ten years coming into the city. We cant even deal with the 2.5 million people. How are we going to welcome another million people in? It is going to be chaotic. We cant even deal with the chaos we have now. I think we have to say enoughs enough.

His opponents pounced on the remarks and painted the Etobicoke councillor as anti-immigration, which Mr. Ford flatly denies.

Of course I support immigration, he said in a statement today. All I said last night was that I think we need to get our own house in order, and before we add a million people over 10 years to our city, we should ask ourselves if our infrastructure can handle that.

He refused to get into the issue with Rocco Rossi, however, who confronted him after the two had completed interviews with reporters in Nathan Phillips Square.

Mr. Ford dismissed the accusations as political and walked away.

The real Rob Ford believes that more immigration means more taxes, as opposed to more economic growth for the city, said Mr. Rossi. I am offended, I am appalled and I believe this man is unfit to be mayor.

George Smitherman called him a serial divider, while Joe Pantalone demanded that he apologize.

We all get the point that people in Toronto have been nickled and dimed and that this is a source of anger, said Mr. Smitherman, addressing the issue that has apparently propelled Mr. Ford to the top of the polls. But if people are looking to choose a mayor simply on the basis of one persons willingness to buy his own paper clips, and discard the responsibilities that a mayor has to actually bring us together, then I think that will be a problem for Toronto, said Mr. Smitherman.

Its not a question of economics, even though economics come into it. This city is a city of immigrants And immigrants to us are what drive this economy, said Mr. Pantalone.

Added Sarah Thomson: When you cut off the refugees and say we dont want them in Toronto, youre not for immigration.