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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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CIJA accepts mayor’s photo apology

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford posed with white supremacist Jon Latvis at the mayor's 2012 New Years Levee.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said that it’s satisfied with the explanation by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford that he doesn’t know a white supremacist who had his photo taken with the city leader.

A picture of Jon Latvis with Ford was posted on the blog of Liberal party strategist Warren Kinsella, who titled the entry “The Toronto Mayor’s Far-Right Friend.”

Kinsella said Jon Latvis is a member of the neo-Nazi rock band RaHoWa, an acronym for “racial holy war.”

The photo, which Kinsella found on Latvis’ Facebook page and was still up as of July 27, shows Latvis wearing a brown military uniform with the caption: “Me meeting with Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford to get an endorsement for the Latvian Homeguard.”

The picture was taken at a 2012 New Year’s Levee at Toronto City Hall, Ford’s office said in a July 26 statement, noting that he poses for many pictures at such events. 

While the photo was being taken, Latvis requested a meeting with the mayor and the two men talked briefly this past March, but discussion was about public transportation, the mayor’s office said.

The statement said that during both the levee and the meeting, Latvis identified himself by a different name.

“At no time was the mayor aware of allegations that this individual had made racist, hateful or otherwise offensive comments, nor were any such comments made during his meeting with the mayor,” the statement said. “Mayor Ford is a strong supporter of Toronto’s Jewish community and strongly deplores antisemitism in any form.

Commenting on his blog, Kinsella said that “the job of [the mayor’s] staff is to ensure these types of incidents don’t happen. Someone should lose their job over this.”

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