Mayor John Tory, Premier Kathleen Wynne to meet with Black Lives Matter Toronto Thursday

Mayor John Tory reiterated his support of police inclusion in Toronto's Pride parade on Monday morning, saying that discussions of trying to exclude police are wrong, but that doesn't mean that he's tried to pick a fight with Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO).

Tory says he's not trying to pick a fight with BLMTO over its call to ban police floats at Pride

Tory penned a letter of support to the Toronto Police Association last week in response to a letter he received from president Mike McCormack. In it Tory wrote that he "would have serious concerns" if police were excluded from future parades. (John Rieti/CBC)

Mayor John Tory and Premier Kathleen Wynne will meet with community groups, including Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO) on Thursday, the mayor told CBC Radio's Metro Morning Monday.

In the interview, Tory also reiterated his call to include police in Toronto's Pride festivities, saying that discussions of trying to exclude police are wrong. But, he said, that doesn't mean he's trying to pick a fight with BLMTO, which staged a sit-in at last weekend's Pride parade to demand police floats be banned from future events.

"I haven't really talked about them at all," said Tory about the activist group on CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

"I just talk about the notion of the police being in the parade in a positive way."

BLMTO protesters blocked the Pride parade route for about 30 minutes on July 3. The parade only resumed after Pride's executive director signed a list of demands from the group which included a ban on police floats in future parades among other things.

Following the disruption, Pride Toronto said it never agreed to exclude police from its events and that they would continue to have discussions with both sides about police involvement in the parade. 

They don't have the right to dictate to the rest of us what's going to happen.- Mayor John Tory on Black Lives Matter Toronto

Tory penned a letter of support to the Toronto Police Association last week in response to a letter he received from president Mike McCormack. In it Tory wrote that he "would have serious concerns" if police were excluded from future parades.

"I could have just as easily written the letter to you," Tory told host Matt Galloway, "or to the police chief because it's what it said that's important."

The mayor says that after all the progress made between the LGBT community and police in the past 35 years he believed that "any discussion of trying to exclude [police] was wrong," and that their participation is a "very positive thing."

Black Lives Matters Toronto shut down this year's Pride parade for nearly 30 minutes until Pride Toronto's executive director signed a list of demands. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

'The city puts a lot of money into that parade'

Last Thursday, BLMTO's Rodney Diverlus warned Tory "has no place in this discussion and he needs to stay in his lane," over the Pride debate.

Tory disagrees. He says his position as mayor brings him into the discussion, along with the fact that the city puts a lot of money into the parade each year.

"The notion that I would have nothing to say about this, you know I don't think that most people would think that's very realistic," said Tory.

At the same time Tory said that he does think that BLMTO has a place in the discussion but that "it's not the only place and they don't have the right to dictate to the rest of us what's going to happen."

The mayor added that the activist group did contribute to getting his and the Premier's attention.

For Tory now there's just one question moving forward: "Can they have constructive conversations with us?" 
Black Lives Matter Toronto had been invited to participate in the parade, and been given the status of Honoured Group. (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

With files from Metro Morning