A group of Asians living in Toronto arrived at City Hall Friday to talk to Councillor Rob Ford. When he wasn’t there, they took a seat.
“Essentially, we’re a group of people that’s working very hard,” joked Kristyn Wong-Tem, the sit-in organizer. And what she, and her group, is working towards is an apology.
Last week at a council meeting, Rob Ford made some controversial comments that upset some members of the Asian community. Among them: ”Oriental people work like dogs.”
Wong-Tem took offense to the remarks, and thinks other people have too. ” It’s not necessarily just an Asian thing. I think that people .. fair-minded Torontonians are offended, period.” She wanted to make her feelings known to the elected official.
Normally, councillors’ offices are locked, which would make a sit-in impossible.
But Councillor Paula Fletcher allowed the protesters in. When asked why, she responded, “This isn’t Guantanamo Bay.”
And that has upset Ford. “Talk about racist comments!” he exclaimed at his constituency office. He also said he didn’t know “Oriental” was a racist term.
F ord had previously said he would not make amends in chambers, and would only offer individual apologies.
That doesn’t sit well with Wong-Tem.
“He will only apologize should you contact his office. But yet he was able to stand … on the floor of the council chambers and deliver his comments as passionately as he did, about this wide stereotyping about Orientals quote-unquote and yet he won’t be able to give that same heartfelt sincere apology to us as residents of Toronto.”
Fletcher said that according to the code of conduct, Ford would have to say he’s sorry. “If the Speaker asks the councillor to apologize, then I think that the councillor will have to apologize. Those are very clear rules of council and we’ll see what happens at the beginning of the next council meeting.”
And it seems the same could be said for her.
That will be a budget meeting, scheduled for Tuesday.
What exactly did Ford say?
Here’s the relevant portion:
“Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out. They are workers non-stop. They sleep beside their machines. That’s why they’re successful in life. I went to Seoul, South Korea, I went to Taipei, Taiwan. I went to Tokyo, Japan. That’s why these people are so hard workers (sic). I’m telling you, the Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over.”