Mayor Rob Ford met the 500-pound butter sculpture created in his image and the artist behind it on Thursday at the Canadian National Exhibition.
He stopped by shortly after 7 p.m. at the farm section of the Better Living Centre, where several butter sculptures are housed, in a rare public appearance with his wife, his young son and daughter.
The sculpture depicts Mr. Ford reading a Margaret Atwood novel behind the wheel of a car, steering with his elbow. The mayor has feuded with Ms. Atwood over cuts to libraries, and came under fire earlier this month after he was photographed reading paperwork behind the wheel on the Gardiner Expressway.
"He set himself up for it, I think. …He provided all the material," said Olenka Kleban, 24, the Toronto-based artist. "Everything in the sculpture is based on things he directly has provided. So that's what I sculpted."
Mr. Ford didn't seem to find the artwork off-putting.
"It doesn't offend me whatsoever, I think it takes a real talent for someone to spend six days carving that – sculpting, whatever terminology you want to use – that impresses me," he said, as he met Ms. Kleban and posed for photos in front of the refrigerated area keeping the sculptures cold.
"I wish her all the best in her career. I'd like to see the other work she's done."
He said she gave him more hair than he has in reality, but otherwise "it's as close as you'll get."
Before Mr. Ford's arrival, Ms. Kleban said she was eager to meet the politician. "At this point, I've never met him, so he's just this mythological creature," she said.
Exhibition-goers were also eager to see Mr. Ford, posing for photos with him and asking him to hold their children before he left to attend the CNE with his family.
Mr. Ford also addressed a furor over a comment from his niece, Krista, reportedly posted on Twitter advising women not to "dress like a whore" in response to a police briefing that warned the public about sexual assaults in Toronto.
"It's a mistake she made. She gets it. She apologized for it," Mr. Ford said.
"She's very young. … We all did things we regret when we were younger. … We have to move on now."