Kristyn Wong-Tam warns Pride controversy with police may affect group’s future funding

In a statement issued in response to chief's remarks earlier today, the Ward 27 councillor says Pride's decision to disinvite police from annual event will likely be met with a threat from the city to revoke funding from the festival



Ward 27 Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has weighed in on the Pride versus police controversy after Toronto police chief Mark Saunders’s statement earlier today confirming the police will not be participating in Pride festivities in 2017.

In a statement released this afternoon, Wong-Tam offers that Pride Toronto’s decision at its annual general meeting earlier this year, “along with the election of several new board members,” to remove Toronto police floats and booths from Pride Month celebrations in 2017, may have financial consequences. 

“The decision does not come without concerns and in the near future we most likely will be faced with a recurring challenge – a threat to revoke the City of Toronto’s funding for the festival.”

Wong-Tam’s statement goes on to say that Pride’s decision, which resulted from a list of demands made by Black Lives Matter after a highly-visible protest at the parade in 2016, has raised “many legitimate concerns that need ongoing attention and sincere engagement.” But adds that, “Whether or not the TPS should be involved in the parade in the longer term is an open discussion.” 

The councillor’s statement says questions remain about future police participation in Pride as Pride “re-builds capacity and fills many vacant positions, including that of Executive Director.” You can read Wong-Tam’s full statement here.

Wong-Tam’s remarks come after Mayor John Tory expressed that he was “disappointed and frustrated” in a statement of his own in response to Saunders’s announcement. Saunders says police will continue to hold their annual Pride reception. And that the decision to respect Pride’s decision not to participate in the parade will not affect outreach efforts with the LGBTQ community. But signs were already emerging last week of a chilling in the relationship. 

enzom@nowtoronto.com | @enzodimatteo

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