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Mayor John Tory supports Pride Toronto funding

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

tory supportive of pride funding

Amid sometimes contentious debate among Pride Toronto officials, members of Black Lives Matter, the Toronto Police union, and other Pride participants, Mayor John Tory has come out in favour of continued funding.

“I will support maintaining our full funding for Pride 2017. Pride is an important city event, and one that must reflect the diversity and vibrancy of our city,” Tory said in a statement on Monday.

His support comes with some conditions, including the return of police to the 2018 Pride parade. Tory’s statement comes the day after Pride executive director Olivia Nuamah further clarified their position when it comes to police officers marching in this year’s parade.

Nuamah said police are not banned from the event, adding LGBTQ+ officers and their allies can participate provided they don’t bring their “uniform, weapons or vehicles.”

“We welcome and encourage their participation to add to Pride this year as members of our community,” read the brief statement. “LGBTQ+ police officers and their allies can march in the parade with community groups, with the City of Toronto, or even create their own group.”

Tory said that as long as Nuamah and Toronto Police chief Mark Saunders continue “constructive” talks, he will support Pride funding.

“…both have indicated to me that a withdrawal of City funding for Pride 2017 won’t be helpful in finding a resolution. Both have asked for time to conduct those discussions and both have indicated that their goal is to work towards inclusion of the police at Pride next year,” he said.

Pride Toronto officials said Sunday that police have been involved in the festival planning to ensure the event and weekend are “secure and successful.”

Last month, the union representing Toronto’s police officers delivered a letter on behalf of a committee representing LGBTQ+ officers in the force asking Mayor John Tory to cut the $260,000 grant for the parade.

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

“When any city employee, regardless of their job function, is dis-invited 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,” the letter read in part.

“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.”

Nuamah plans to appear before the Economic Development Committee on Monday to talk about continued city funding of the Pride parade.

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 anti-racism 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.

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