05 JUL 2016:  Sunday’s Pride Parade in Toronto was a success – and a disappointment.  It was a gorgeous afternoon. For the first time a Prime Minister walked in a Pride Parade, though not a first for the man himself – Justin Trudeau has been something of a regular at the Toronto parade. The Premier of the province, the Mayor of the city and countless other politicians - federal, provincial and municipal - police forces, and the military all marched, the navy band played “YMCA” and encouraged bystanders to sing and spell out the letters - there was a air of fun and exuberance in both the crowds watching and the marchers. It was a time to be thankful we live in a country where such a joyous event can take place.

But first there was a moment of remembrance.  A tribute to the tragedy in Orlando led the parade.  It was dignified and touching and many marchers and onlookers were moved to tears.  

The organization, Black Lives Matter, were accorded ‘honoured guest’ status and marched at the front of the parade. Regrettably, they chose this event to make a political statement.  They walked part way then brought the parade to a standstill for about half an hour until Pride officials agreed to their demands.

Those demands included excluding Police floats and booths from future parades and Pride celebrations.  Is this organization even aware that Toronto’s police chief is black? That the overwhelming majority of police officers in Toronto do an outstanding job? Do they care?

Pride’s executive director Mathieu Chantelois, publicly signed the list of demands, however, according to the Toronto Star, he now says he has no plans to honour them before consulting with his community.

“What I did yesterday was made the parade move.” Said Chantelois.

That he did.   But the fact that he was bullied into signing demands, that those demands seek to exclude Toronto’s police force from an inclusive event, and that Chantelois signed never intending to honour the agreement – are all shameful.

The police are understandably angry.  Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack called the agreement, “A slap in the face” to all police officers.

And of course it is.

If there is ever a right time for such demands - certainly this was not it.  It was the wrong time and the wrong place for a blatant political power play.  Even the politicians put aside politics.

Black lives matter.  Not as an organization looking to make headlines, but the very fact of those three words – Black lives matter.  Of course they do.  So do the lives of everyone else – regardless of colour, belief, gender or occupation. Police lives matter.

All lives matter.

Pride Toronto 2016
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