9 min

Doug Ford won’t say if he’ll march in Toronto Pride parade

Ford’s indecision echoes his late brother Rob’s refusal to participate in Pride

Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford at a rally, speaking about Hydro One in Toronto on May 15, 2018. Credit: The Canadian Press/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

Doug Ford, likely the next premier of Ontario, won’t say whether he’ll march in Toronto’s Pride parade.

“When I get elected, we’ll sit down and make that decision,” he told reporters at an event in Sault Ste Marie on June 1.

Ford’s indecision contradicts what other Progressive Conservatives have been saying about his willingness to participate in Pride.

Lisa Macleod, the PC member of provincial parliament for Nepean-Carleton, tweeted in March that Ford had told her he would be at Toronto Pride.

While Ford would likely find a hostile reception at any Pride event, Olivia Nuamah, the executive director of Pride Toronto, said in an interview with Xtra last month that Ford would be welcome to march in the parade if he chose to.

“All three parties contribute to us in a variety of ways,” she said. “If he wanted to march, he would.”

Ford has marched in a number of other parades, including the St Patrick’s Day parade and Jesus in the City, a Christian parade Ford has been credited with saving.

NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who is running neck-in-neck with Ford in the polls, told Xtra after the Toronto Pride flag raising on June 1 that she would continue to march in the Pride parade were she elected premier.

“I would be honoured to and I guarantee you I’ll be there,” she said.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, the first gay premier in Canada, has marched in Pride every year she’s been premier.

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s refusal to march in Toronto Pride became a defining flashpoint in his mayoralty. Doug Ford defended his brother’s decision through those four years and often made derogatory comments about the parade and the LGBT community.

“You know what’s ironic? I spoke to some folks in the gay community, and they said they weren’t going because they didn’t like the idea of men running — you know, middle-aged men, with pot bellies, running down the street buck naked. And they didn’t feel comfortable that they could bring their kids there,” Doug Ford said in 2014.

During the PC leadership campaign, Ford ran on a socially conservative platform and was supported by Charles McVety, the president of Canada Christian College and one of Ontario’s most virulent anti-LGBT activists.

Patrick Brown became the first PC leader to march in Toronto Pride in 2015 and has marched in every parade since.