Toronto mayor speaks out for police inclusion after Pride protest

Toronto Mayor John Tory is speaking out after last weekend's Black Lives Matter protest at Canada's largest gay Pride parade, saying he would have "serious concerns" if police were excluded from participating.

'We would have serious concerns if they were excluded,' says John Tory

Torono Mayor John Tory, centre, says now is the time to include more people in Pride celebrations despite calls to exclude police floats in the festivities. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory is speaking out after last weekend's Black Lives Matter protest at Canada's largest gay Pride parade, calling the group's demand of excluding police participation in the event "a backwards step."

At Wednesday's Eid al-Fitr celebration at the Canadian National Exhibition, Tory said: "Now is the time to go forward and include more people in the Pride celebrations.

"We've come so far in relations between the police and the LGBTQ2S community, and the police have embraced Pride, Pride have embraced the police. I think to go backwards from there would be a backwards step for the whole community and for Pride."

The comments come after the mayor penned a letter of support to the Toronto Police Association in regards to a list of demands from Black Lives Matter, including a ban on police floats in future parades. 

"Toronto police have had a presence in the parade for more than a decade and we would have serious concerns if they were excluded," said the statement from the mayor's office, days before organizers are set to meet with police Chief Mark Saunders later this week.

"The Toronto police have and continue to make significant efforts under the leadership of Chief Saunders to build bridges with the LGBTQ2S community. As a city, we rely on our police service to keep Pride happy and safe ... and the mayor believes they must continue to do so going forward."

On Sunday, Black Lives Matter Toronto protesters blocked the Pride parade route for about 30 minutes. The parade resumed once Pride's executive director signed the list of demands from Black Lives Matter.

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.

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