(Oct 27): In a phone interview with xtra.ca on Tuesday, CTBC program manager Thumi Siva countered claims made by Miracle Family Temple’s lead pastor.
Siva said Pastor David Loganathan is "100 percent responsible for the ad.... He's personally responsible for it,” he said. “We don't have anything against George Smitherman or Rob Ford, as we stay neutral." Since the Miracle Family Temple is a long-time customer of the station, Siva said that station staff didn't review the advertisement before airing it.
In a follow-up call to Pastor Loganathan, he said, "the Church has nothing to do with it. I have nothing to say to you," before abruptly hanging up.
Immediately following Ford's win on Monday Pastor Loganathan expressed his support for the new mayor via Twitter: "God Bless Rob Ford new Toronto mayor. He is an answer to our prayers. Many Christians have prayed and voted for this landslide victory."
With only hours until Toronto voters decide who will become their new mayor, an already heated campaign took a twisted turn this weekend as some in the Smitherman campaign accused the Rob Ford camp of backing an anti-gay ad broadcast on Tamil Radio station CTBC- Canadian Tamil Broadcasting Corporation.
Here's a translation of the ad, along with the ad itself (via vijaysappani.com):
Man #1: Mani anna (elder brother), who are you going to vote for?
Man#2: [snickering dismissively] What a question… we are Tamil… we have a religion, a culture... Take Rob Ford… he is married to a woman.. also, he promises to lower transfer and other fees.
Man#1: So... immigration?
Man#2: [snickering dismissively again] That’s a federal matter.. probably to get the whiteman’s vote [term for white man used here colloquially with racist undertones].
Man#1: I am also voting for Rob Ford.
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The ad has since been pulled by the station. Since the ad had been played during a show produced by the Miracle Family Temple, a Christian-Tamil organization, some suspected the Temple itself had paid for the ad, but in an interview with xtra.ca, senior pastor David Loganatha of the Miracle Family Temple "categorically" denied any involvement with the ad. "Maybe it was played during our program, but we had nothing to do with it," said Loganatha.
Adrienne Batra, head of communications for the Rob Ford campaign, says the Ford campaign itself is not responsible for the ad. Batra says the campaign is "appalled" by it and compared the reference to Smitherman's homosexuality to disparaging comments made about Ford's weight. "We have no idea where this ad came from. They're alluding to his lifestyle choices, and no one feels ill-feelings for his choice." UPDATE: @RobFordTeam (the official Twitter account of the Rob Ford campaign) wrote: "I do not condone the recent Tamil Radio ad. I support diversity & have no issue with others' lifestyle choices. #voteTO"
Sivakaran Gunaratnam, a queer Tamil in Toronto, calls the ads "pretty disturbing" and an "attack" on queer Tamils like himself. "It plays on preconceived notions of what being Tamil means — implying there are no queer Tamils. Regardless of who paid for the ads, it's insulting to say there are no queer Tamils." He points to the success of programs and services for queer Tamils like Snehithan and ASAAP as indications of a thriving queer Tamil community.
At this time, calls to CTBC have gone unanswered.
Just last week Rob Ford skipped a planned 519 mayoral debate on local and LGBT issues citing previous commitments.