During a Toronto mayoral debate on Sept. 23, that was reported to be “raucous” and “rowdy” with the moderator asking for calm numerous times, Iola Fortino, a city resident, was escorted by police out of the auditorium after making comments calling for more God in the classroom and taking a stand against the Pride Parade.
People with questions at the York Memorial Collegiate debate were asked to write them down as no queries from the floor were permitted. Still, numerous people in the audience heckled and yelled out questions, and when Fortino did so, she was asked to leave. Fortino admits to interrupting the proceedings, but insists she was not the only one to do so.
She raised her voice in support of Doug Ford, the brother of embattled mayor Rob Ford, whom he was replacing on the ballot after the incumbent was diagnosed with cancer. During an exchange among the candidates about youth, Fortino stood up and asked, “can we put God back in the schools?” She continued, saying that “the Universal Prayer” is needed in the schools, not gay-straight alliances and other so-called anti-bullying initiatives.
Police escorted her to a hallway, an experience, Fortino told The Interim, that has left her humiliated. As she was leaving she said of Rob Ford, “he goes to the family cottage during the Pride parade, that’s why we love him. We need Ford Nation.”
The media reported that a “homophobic woman” was forced to leave the proceedings, but as Fortino told The Interim, if she uttered “truly homophobic remarks, I would have been charged with a hate crime.”
She said the organizers were being undemocratic for removing her but not others who were yelling from the audience and said that it was based on the content of her remarks.