Toronto Mayor Rob Ford attended a Pride event for the first time in his mayoralty on Monday, after previously ignoring calls to participate in formal events that his past three predecessors all took part in.
Ford read the Pride proclamation during a ceremony held outside Toronto City Hall, in which the rainbow flag was also raised.
"Pride Week is an opportunity to celebrate the harmony in which we co-exist," Ford said, also noting that it is a recognition of the barriers that some still face in their work and personal lives.
"In a world often marred by clashes between people who see differences as a reason for conflict, Pride Week is a time to celebrate diversity, inclusiveness and understanding," he said.
Ford was given a round of applause after reading out the Pride proclamation and attending the flag-raising, events he was absent from in the past two years.
'It's really nice to see him here'
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam, who introduced the mayor, said in an interview she was happy to see Ford speak in a gesture of support for Pride as "a mayor for all people."
She noted that since 1995 with Barbara Hall in Toronto's highest elected office, it's been tradition that every mayor has read the Pride Week proclamation or marched in the Pride parade — a "historical pattern" that effectively ended once Ford was elected in 2010.
"In 2011, 2012, we did not see the mayor come out to read proclamation or even to come out to the parade or demonstrate any support to this particular community, so it's really nice to see him here now," Wong-Tam said.
"It is a major tour de force culturally and from an economic perspective, so it's always been a little bit strange that the mayor has not been outwardly supportive of Pride Toronto," she added.
The city's Pride Week draws an estimated 1.2 million people each year, including the massive crowds that line downtown streets for the annual Pride Parade.
Premier Kathleen Wynne will be marching in the parade this year, becoming the first Ontario premier to do so.
The premier was present for the flag-raising ceremony at city hall on Monday. Wynne tweeted that she was glad to see both the mayor and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, present at the event.