What is it with Toronto and racist politicians? No, not him. Him either. I’m talking about Mel Lastman, because I have just been reminded that today is the anniversary of the time he said he didn’t want to go to Africa because he might get boiled alive.
Yes, that was a thing that the head of our country’s biggest city actually said. And yes, it went over about as well as you’d expect.
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman apologized profusely and repeatedly at press conference about remarks about his visit to Kenya.
Before leaving for the trip to gain support of African delegates for Toronto’s bid, the mayor, in an attempt to be amusing, said, “What the hell do I want to go to a place like Mombasa?… I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.” He also said he and his wife are afraid of snakes.
Lastman issued a written apology saying the remarks were off the cuff and never intended to offend anyone, and held a press conference about how sorry he was about his gaffe.
David Kilgour, the Secretary of State for Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean called the remarks a “display of ignorance” and said they will undoubtably affect Toronto’s Olympic bid.
African votes are crucial to Toronto winning the Olympics and Bruce Kidd, who is part Toronto’s bid team, frankly admits he’s doing damage control. “The mayor said a very, very stupid thing. When he saw it in print, he quickly realized his mistake and has issued a gracious apology.” The bid committee says it doubts the comments will affect the competition.
the bid committee was incorrect. Toronto lost the vote 56-22 to Beijing.
But it’s not all bad. Sure the Mayor was a big dumb idiot, but as far as I’m concerned this ended up being one of those blind squirrel finds nut situations. In part because of this, old Mel probably saved the city, the Province of Ontario and the federal government several billion dollars worth of crippling debt.
And just in case anyone feels like arguing with me, yes, Mel Lastman was often a big dumb idiot.