Hockey colour host officiates new mayor’s inauguration

Seating inside Toronto City Hall council chambers was filled early and required this overflow area for members of the public to witness the swearing in of Mayor Rob Ford. (AUDIENCE_OUTSIDE_GRANDE(E))

Don Cherry knows how to stand out in a crowd.

Dressed in a neon pink suit to openly endorse Toronto mayor Rob Ford, Cherry made no apologies – either for the suit or his support for Ford.

“I’m befuddled because I thought I was just doing a good thing,” he said. “I’ve been ripped to shreds by the left-wing pinko newspapers out there. It’s unbelievable. One guy called me a ‘jerk in a pink suit,’ so I thought I’d wear (this) for him.”

Cherry arrived at City Hall today for the official inauguration of Toronto’s new mayor. Listed as Ford’s “special guest,” Cherry made a brief and controversial speech to the new city council assembled before him.

“I was made fun of because I go to church,” Cherry said about the media. “I was called maudlin because I honour the troops … (The media) scrape the bottom of the barrel.”

Jill Penny, a Toronto resident and Ford supporter, turned up to the first meeting of the 2010-14 city council. Penny joined hundreds ofother Ford supporters in the hallway at City Hall to watch the ceremony on a large TV screen.

“Sorry, but I loved all the pinko stuff,” she laughed. “Clearly, this is not going to be a council that is going to be left-leaning. Therefore, not quite so ‘pinko,’ let’s say.”

Penny took issue with those who may be offended by Cherry’s decision to appear as Ford’s guest.

“If he (Cherry) is a supporter too and Rob respects him as a supporter … then why shouldn’t he have him up there?” she said. “The fact that he’s not connected (to politics), that’s even better. And that links to what Rob’s all about … Kudos to Rob for choosing him.”

The conclusion of Cherry’s speech, in particular, drew loud applause from Ford supporters assembled around the giant screen.

“I was in (Ford’s) corner right from the start,” Cherry said. “Rob’s honest, he’s truthful, he’s like Julian Fantino – that what you see is what you get … He’s going to be the greatest mayor this city has ever seen, as far as I’m concerned, and put that in your pipe you left-wing kooks.”