Ottawa pride group asks police to leave uniforms, vehicles out of parade

Ottawa's pride group is asking police officers intending to march in the upcoming parade to leave their uniforms and cars at home.

Chief Bordeleau says the decision about whether to wear uniform in parade will be left to individual officers

An Ottawa police cruiser was unveiled in 2015. No police vehicles or floats will drive in this year's event. (Twitter/@DRRMatters)

Ottawa's pride group is asking police officers intending to march in the upcoming parade to leave their uniforms at home. 

Capital Pride said a recent consultation process revealed that community members would feel more at ease if police officers wore plain clothes during Ottawa pride events, including the parade scheduled for August. 

"We respectfully request that participating officers reserve their uniforms and vehicles for official work duties only this year," the group said in a news release Friday. 

Organizers of Capital Pride say they've asked police officers to leave the uniforms at home. (CBC )

Despite the request, they added they understand and acknowledge the role of the Ottawa Police Service in their events. 

'It is part of our identity'

Responding to the statement, police Chief Charles Bordeleau said the decision had been made beforehand not to register an official police cruiser or float for this year's parade.

However, Bordeleau's statement said it will be up to individual officers to choose whether to wear their uniforms. 

"We are proud of our uniform, and it is part of our identity — it's who we are and how we serve the community," Bordeleau said. 

This is bigotry, this is disgusting behaviour …- Matt Skof, OPA president

Ottawa police have had a marked cruiser and marchers in the annual parade, along with other members of the LGBT liaison committee, for approximately the past 10 years, according to spokeswoman Carole Lavigne.

Matt Skof, president of the Ottawa Police Association, agreed that a police officer is defined by his or her uniform. 

"Our uniform is now excluded," he said. "This is bigotry, this is disgusting behaviour and it's unfortunate that we're in this position."

The original plan was to have a first responders float together with firefighters and paramedics, he said. With the recent announcement, he's now encouraging his association members to stay home. 

A spokesperson from Capital Pride declined to comment, saying their "community needs time to discuss and reflect on this decision."