Toronto po­lice union wants Pride fund­ing pulled af­ter floats banned

Truro Daily News - - CANADA -

The union rep­re­sent­ing Toronto’s po­lice of­fi­cers is urg­ing the city to pull an an­nual grant to Canada’s largest Pride pa­rade af­ter the event banned po­lice floats.

In an open let­ter re­leased by the union Wed­nes­day, a com­mit­tee rep­re­sent­ing LGBTQ of­fi­cers in the force said it would be un­ac­cept­able for the city to give the roughly US$260,000 grant to an event that ex­cludes cer­tain mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees.

The com­mit­tee said of­fi­cers would feel com­pletely de­val­ued and un­sup­ported by the city if the fund­ing con­tin­ued.

The plea comes weeks af­ter a sim­i­lar call from a Toronto city coun­cil­lor, who said the grant should be voted down un­til the city’s Pride pa­rade re­turns to its “core prin­ci­pals of eq­uity and in­clu­siv­ity.”

In Jan­uary, Pride Toronto adopted a list of de­mands is­sued by the Toronto chap­ter of Black Lives Matter, in­clud­ing ban­ning po­lice floats from the pa­rade. Mem­bers of the an­tiracism group held a sit-in part way through the pa­rade last July, stop­ping it from mov­ing for­ward for about a half hour, un­til Pride or­ga­niz­ers signed the list of de­mands.

Black Lives Matter said it op­posed po­lice pres­ence in the pa­rade be­cause it could dis­cour­age marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties from par­tic­i­pat­ing.

About a month af­ter Pride Toronto’s rul­ing, Toronto’s po­lice chief an­nounced the force would not be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the an­nual event this year, cit­ing di­vi­sions within the LGBTQ com­mu­nity as a key mo­ti­va­tor.

The city still pro­vides polic­ing, trans­porta­tion and other ser­vices for the Pride pa­rade, which would not be af­fected even if the grant is re­voked.

Mike McCor­mack, pres­i­dent of the Toronto Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion, read the open let­ter Wed­nes­day at city hall, where he was set to de­liver it to Mayor John Tory.

“When any city em­ployee, re­gard­less of their job func­tion, is dis­in­vited from an event hosted in the city of Toronto, we feel it is sim­ply a con­flict of in­ter­est and un­ac­cept­able that the city of Toronto re­main a spon­sor,” he read.

“We can think of no ex­am­ple in Canada where ei­ther a pub­lic or pri­vate em­ployer has been a lead spon­sor for an event their em­ploy­ees were asked not to par­tic­i­pate in.”

The is­sue of po­lice par­tic­i­pa­tion in Pride pa­rades has also emerged in other Cana­dian cities in re­cent months.

The Van­cou­ver Pride So­ci­ety has asked of­fi­cers in that city to show up in fewer num­bers and with­out their uni­forms at the re­quest of the lo­cal chap­ter of Black Lives Matter.

Hal­i­fax po­lice have also an­nounced they would pull out of the city’s Pride pa­rade this year in light of the “na­tional de­bate” about law en­force­ment par­tic­i­pa­tion in such events.

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