Ford marches in York Pride Parade amid criticism of decision to skip Toronto event
Premier Doug Ford declined to march in Toronto parade due to ban on uniformed police
After declining to participate in Pride parades in years past, Premier Doug Ford marched in York Region's event in Newmarket along police officers on Saturday afternoon.
"Premier Ford said he would participate in this year's Pride month. He's thrilled to march today with the York Regional Police in the York Pride Parade," said Ford's spokesperson, Ivana Yelich, in an email statement.
"He wishes everyone taking part in events across the province a very happy Pride."
Ford was joined by Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Health and Long-term Care Christine Elliott and MPP Stephen Lecce at the parade.
While some protesters met the group near the end of the parade, their participation was generally well received.
Doug Ford is marching in York Region's <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/pride?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#pride</a> parade, was stalled for awhile at the beginning with protestors blocking his path. <a href="https://t.co/NEuPnWMRRa">pic.twitter.com/NEuPnWMRRa</a>—@KeldaYuen
Ford has faced public blow back recently for his refusal to march in Toronto's parade on June 23, traditionally among the largest in North America.
The premier said earlier this month that his decision was in protest of the exclusion of uniformed police officers from parade, though he does plan to participate in other Pride Toronto events.
He similarly decided not to attend last year, just weeks after his Progressive Conservatives secured a commanding win in the 2018 provincial election.
On Saturday, Ford said that he thinks the Toronto Pride Parade is "going to be an incredible event" and noted that the province provided some $375,000 in funding to Pride Toronto this year.
"I think both parades are great. I chose this one, the police are marching in it. But I wish everyone all the best in all the other Pride parades," he told reporters.
The PC leader has made some very controversial remarks about the Toronto event before, describing it in 2014 as an event where "middle-aged men with pot bellies" ran down the street "buck naked."
Meanwhile, as mayor of Toronto, Ford's late brother Rob also caused controversy with his repeated absence from Pride parades in the city. The brothers opted instead to go to the Ford family cottage in Huntsville during Pride week.