Motion at Toronto City Council supporting police in Pride

Motion MM20.12 was to be “considered” at Toronto City Council in its meeting of 12 to 14 July. On that last day, the motion was withdrawn.

Support for Toronto Police Service at the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade

By Councilor Justin J. Di Ciano, seconded by Councillor Jon Burnside

Councillor Justin J. Di Ciano, seconded by Councillor Jon Burnside, recommends that: City Council reaffirm its support for the Toronto Police Service’s participation in the annual Toronto Pride Parade through its ability to provide a safe and inclusive atmosphere for residents and visitors, while participating fully in every aspect of this city-wide event.

Summary

Pride Toronto’s overwhelming success in “uniting and empowering people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expression” is a testament to the tolerance, understanding and compassion inherent within all Torontonians.

Toronto Pride and all Torontonians continue to lead the fight in discrimination for members of the LGBT community worldwide. Torontonians understand that discrimination ends when we move past exclusion and rejection of members within our society and embrace forgiveness dialogue and cooperation.

Since the inception of Toronto’s Pride Parade, the Toronto Police Service has worked tirelessly to promote a safe and inclusive atmosphere that has enabled millions of global citizens to peacefully protest their fundamental rights and freedoms without fear of persecution or retribution.

“Pride Toronto brings people together to celebrate the history, courage and diversity of our community” and it is these tenets that are reflected in every Torontonian, every community group and every City Agency, Board and Commission.

A PDF of the same motion was also attached.

Community responses

  • E‑mails (and one letter) were listed as having been sent in by:

    1. Alex Elliot
    2. Buffy Childerhose
    3. Carson Pinch
    4. Ceta Ramkhalawansingh
    5. Dennis Findlay
    6. Jason Hirsch
    7. Jon Spencer
    8. Judith Parker
    9. Leslie M. Anderson
    10. Mark Zador
    11. Michael Maranda
    12. Molly Reynolds
    13. Sheeman Barakzai
    14. Tera Mallette
  • I also read a rather biting evaluation on Facebook from a relatively well-known person. The wording of the motion completely degays Pride, this person noted, and makes Pride a celebration “every Torontonian, every community group and every City Agency, Board and Commission” effectively own.

Form letter circulated by Elisha Lim

On the Facebook, July 12.

July 11th, 2016

Dear Mayor Tory and Toronto City Councillors

We are writing to you to express our concern and apprehension about “Member Motion 20.12 Support for Toronto Police Service (TPS) at the 2016 Toronto Pride Parade” put forward by Councillor Justin J. DiCiano and seconded by Councillor Jon Burnside. This item is scheduled for the Council Agenda for either Tuesday July 12th or Wednesday July 13th 2016.

As members of the LGBTIQ communities of Toronto we strongly feel that it is not the business of City Council to “affirm or re-affirm” the participation of the Toronto Police Service in the Pride Parade. It is not the mandate of Council to legislate what LGBTIQ communities can or cannot do in their activities.

The role of the police in Pride and in our communities has been an on-going issue for many years now This is not a new issue from this year’s Pride. We have extensive experience in dealing with the police.

The decision about the engagement or not of the TPS in the Pride Parade rests with the LGBTIQ communities of the City. It is they/us who will decide on this matter. Interference by Council in our matters will only make the situation worse and suggest that Council supports the police against marginalized members of the LGBTIQ community.

We urge you to vote against this motion. Thank-you.

Sincerely,

Lim listed an address (lgbtiqto@gmail.com) to which to send this form letter. Presumably the result was some of the “community responses” Council received.

Elisha Lim statement against City Council motion

Response from Kristyn Wong-Tam

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam also responded.

Councillor Wong-Tam’s Statement on Toronto Police and the Pride Parade

Over the past few weeks, important questions have been raised regarding the role of protest in the Toronto Pride parade, the relationship of police to the full spectrum of the LGBTQ2S community and, particularly, the needs of Queer and Trans persons of colour. I have been encouraged by the many nuanced and challenging conversations that this has inspired in the broader community. However, I have also been disappointed to see several City Councillors enter this debate from an uninformed perspective, and make political hay from a painful and necessary community conversation.

Unfortunately, many of the most vocal Councillors have not found the time to consistently offer their support to Toronto Pride events. Each year, at the Pride flag raising, the Pride parade, and PFLAG’s ceremonies, ample space is created for politicians to stand in support of the LGBTQ2S community. Yet, time and again, those who will not show up in solidarity find it opportune to interject their views when difficult conversations arise, drowning out more invested voices, and ignoring years of important work. The Toronto Pride funding debate of years past was subject to this rhetoric, and now the same situation is being replayed here – promoting a manufactured, either-or debate that is of little benefit to anyone.

Toronto Pride is not a City-run event. For Councillors to place themselves in the middle of a debate which they have little power to effect is disingenuous to constituents and disrespectful to the established community processes of Pride Toronto. While many are rightly pleased with the progress the Toronto Police Service has shown in working with the LGBTQ2S community at large and supporting events such as Pride – as well as its own officers – I cannot think of anyone on City Council who can fully grasp the lived experience of Black LGBTQ2S Torontonians. This dearth of perspective is the very reason why City Council has supported Pride Toronto’s internal Dispute Resolution Process in years past.

Hard conversations are inevitable. In the best of cases, they can lead to real progress. Pride Toronto, Black Lives Matter, the Toronto Police Service, and the many other important stakeholders must be granted the opportunity to engage – should they choose – in the Dispute Resolution Process, absent from the political grandstanding that so often accompanies such newsworthy events. Listening, understanding, and finding a supportive role is where City Council leadership can facilitate progress. If my colleagues wish to support the community, I suggest they start by participating in the many events, opportunities and occasions that the diverse LGBTQ2S community invites them to each year.

Updated: 2016.07.22, 2016.08.04