News Toronto

Police union wants Pride funding pulled

Shawn Jeffords, Political Bureau Chief

By Shawn Jeffords, Political Bureau Chief

Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun files)

Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun files)

TORONTO - 

Members of Toronto’s police union want the city to cut hundreds of thousands in funding from the city’s Pride parade.

In a letter to Mayor John Tory on Wednesday, members of the Toronto Police Associations’ LGBTQ internal support network ask him to pull funding from Pride Toronto over a decision in January to “dis-invite” officers from participating. The organization made the move after Black Lives Matter — Toronto demanded police be barred from the event because the group believes police participation could discourage some from taking part in Pride festivities.

“At our request, we would like the association to consider sharing with the mayor and city councillors, that we as city employees would feel completely devalued and unsupported by our employer should they fund this event at this time,” the letter says.

The city contributes $260,000 of taxpayer cash to the parade. The officers say that continued support from their employer is “unacceptable” given the decision to exclude cops.

Police union president Mike McCormack said he’s often asked how officers feel about the decision made by Pride Toronto. This letter is an example of it, he said.

“These are members who have decades of service to the Toronto Police and to community building these relationships,” he said.

“It’s not about lowering the temperature,” he said. “Our officers have been told they’re not welcome. This is how they feel and I’m here to advocate and speak on behalf of our officers. People have asked me how do they feel? That’s how they feel.”

Mayor Tory said he supports including police in the Pride parade but said it isn’t the time to cut funding.

“I don’t think today is the day for a threat or an ultimatum or anything like that,” he said. “I think it’s the day to continue those discussions and for me to encourage those groups to be talking to each other and find a resolution to this so that we can have everybody feel included in the Pride parade including some of the LGBTQ officers who have made their feelings known.”

In February, Chief Mark Saunders announced that police would not march in the parade, but would continue to provide security for the event. The service will also still hold an annual Pride reception.

Pride Toronto did not respond to request for comment.