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Left-wing councillors lash out after Cherry speech

"Put that in your pipes, you left-wing kooks."

Those were the words that echoed through Toronto's council chambers as Mayor Rob Ford stood to deliver an inaugural address that couldn't hope to compete with the performance that preceded it.

Don Cherry, clad in a shockingly pink floral jacket, set the tone at Mr. Ford's investiture Tuesday with a three-minute introductory speech that lambasted pinkos, bike riders and the "left-wing" media.

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"I'm wearing pinko for all the pinkos out there who ride bicycles," the Hockey Night In Canada personality began. "I am befuddled because I just thought I was doing a good thing coming down with Ron, [I mean]Rob and I thought it was going to be nice and the whole deal. I've been being ripped to shreds by the left-wing pinko newspapers out there. It's unbelievable."

Mr. Cherry, selected to drape the chain of office over the mayor's neck, said a few kind words about Mr. Ford before concluding: "He's going to be the greatest mayor this city has ever, ever seen as far I'm concerned. Put that in your pipes, you left-wing kooks."

The remarks shocked many councillors who had invited their families to watch what was supposed to be a friendly ceremony kicking off the 2010-2014 term of council. Councillor Adam Vaughan, a long-time enemy of Mr. Ford, swiveled his chair and put his back to Mr. Cherry during the speech. Others were equally unimpressed.

"Rob Ford has to learn if he wants to be a good mayor of the city of Toronto to take responsibility for the consequences of his decisions," Councillor Gord Perks said. "He made a decision to put a particular person up to set the tone for the term of council and what a tone we got."

"It was like bring on the clowns," Councillor Pam McConnell added.

Mr. Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, both suggested after the ceremony that they didn't know ahead of time what Mr. Cherry would say. "Don is exactly what you see is what you get," the mayor told reporters.

The investiture ceremony began with a piper leading a parade of neatly turned-out councillors with fresh red roses on their lapels into a chamber packed with about 400 well-wishers. Mr. Ford beamed as he recited the formal declaration of office and posed for pictures with all 44 councillors.

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He even played nice with his political foes, chuckling as arch-lefty Mr. Perks punched him on the arm and environmentalist Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker kissed him on the cheek.

Despite Mr. Cherry's introduction, Mr. Ford delivered a composed inaugural address promising to respect taxpayers and provide them the best value for their money. He finished by comparing himself to William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto's first mayor and the leader of the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion.

"He fought against privilege and for the little guy. My plan is to be more successful than he was," Mr. Ford told the crowd.

For his part, Mr. Cherry made no apologies. "What can I tell ya, don't invite me," he told reporters after the ceremony. "If you want a pit bull you get a pit bull."

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Health reporter

Kelly Grant is a health reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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