Intolerance-inspired effort to defund Pride Toronto thwarted

by: Obert Madondo |  | Published May 27, 2017, by The Canadian Progressive

Pride. Photo credit: allen / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The City of Toronto just thwarted an attempt by some right-wing councillors to force the city to pull its $260,000 grant to Pride Toronto, the non-profit organizer of the annual Toronto Pride festivals.

Councillors voted 27-17 to reject a motion that dripped with intolerance. As the Globe and Mail reported, “The motion was championed by ‎Etobicoke Centre City Councillor John Campbell, who later acknowledged to reporters he has never attended the annual pride parade, as it conflicts with a local rib festival, and would not attend it this year unless police were invited.”

In January, Pride set conditions for Toronto Police Services’ participating in the 2017 march after Black Lives Matter Toronto had demanded that “uniformed cops be barred from marching in uniform with weapons in this year’s parade“, which takes place on June 25. During the 2016 parade, BLM protested the organizers’ “anti-blackness” and failure to recognize the police’s well-documented anti-black violence and practices, such as carding, by blocking the parade for half an hour.

On May 7, Pride issued the following statement:

The statement aims to clarify that police are not banned, that they are invited to participate with select conditions and that they will be providing necessary services to ensure the festival is secure.

LGBTQ+ police officers and their allies are not banned from the parade.

We welcome and encourage their participation to add to Pride this year as members of our community. 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.

We are simply requesting that their participation not include the following elements: uniform, weapons, and vehicles.

The Toronto Police Service has been involved and supportive to us throughout our festival planning. They will provide all the necessary services to ensure that the festival weekend and parade are secure and successful.

The annual Pride Toronto festival is one of Canada’s biggest arts and cultural events. It brings people together to celebrate love, racial diversity, “diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions“.

Furthermore, the city’s $260,000 grant pales in comparison with Pride festivals’ economic impact. A study pegged the total economic benefit of Pride Week 2009 at $136 million. In 2013, the festivals reportedly generated $286 million.

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter: @Obiemad