Pull Pride funding if police can't wear uniforms in parade, councillor says
Mayor Watson disagrees with Capital Pride decision, but says no to pulling public funds
The City of Ottawa should withdraw funding for Capital Pride if the organization bans off-duty police officers from wearing their uniform in the annual parade, a city councillor says.
Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley spoke out about this year's event after Capital Pride issued a statement last week requesting a limited police presence in the parade, which will be held in August.
The statement said that after consultations with members of the LGBT community and other marginalized groups, "we respectfully request that participating officers reserve their uniforms and vehicles for official work duties only this year."
I don't think the city should be giving them anything at all if this is the new direction for this parade.- Allan Hubley, Kanata South councillor
Hubley, whose teenage son Jamie was openly gay and died by suicide in 2011 after being bullied over his sexual orientation, told CBC News he thinks Capital Pride is headed in the wrong direction.
"I don't think the city should be giving them anything at all if this is the new direction for this parade. We should just walk away from it. Because who's next?" he said Wednesday.
Mayor Jim Watson said that while he doesn't agree with Pride's request, he doesn't want to "punish" the festival by withdrawing public funding.
"I think the Pride parade is one about inclusion and I'm not sure what's accomplished by telling one group of people — who have worked very hard to strengthen relations with the LGBTQ community — to stay away and not wear your uniform," Watson said.
However, the mayor was not in favour of pulling funding.
"Councillor Hubley is, obviously, entitled to his opinion, but I don't share it."
Last year, Capital Pride organizer Tammy Dopson faced similar requests to have police not wear their uniforms in the 2016 parade, but the group ultimately decided against it.
"What I can say is that we have no intentions of making exclusion a part of inclusion, obviously it doesn't fit," Dopson said at the time.
Hubley, who sits on the Ottawa Police Services Board, said it doesn't make sense if the Pride group doesn't want uniformed officers in the parade, but is OK with them wearing uniforms to direct traffic and keep people safe.
"If you object to the uniform, you can't object to it in these terms. It doesn't make a lot of sense and shows a lot weakness in their argument, in their decision," he said.
Councillor concerned Pride being 'bullied'
Earlier this month, the Black Lives Matter group took over a stage at the Montreal Jazz Festival to protest after a Black man was killed in a shooting with police in that city.
Hubley also worries about a takeover of the Ottawa Pride parade, similar to what happened last year in Toronto. Black Lives Matter activists in that city brought the parade to a halt for approximately 30 minutes.
"If they're [Capital Pride] getting bullied by another group, we can certainly help them with that and I would be very supportive, making sure that the parade goes as planned and as wanted by this group," he said.
Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said in a statement last week that it will be up to individual officers to decide if they want to march in the parade wearing plainclothes or their uniform.
On social media Wednesday, Bordeleau wrote that he plans to march in the parade in uniform with other police officers.