UPDATE – JUNE 13: Mayor Rob Ford has now signed the 2011 Pride Toronto proclamation, the mayor’s press secretary has confirmed to Xtra.
Adrienne Batra didn’t go into details about the signing or offer comment. She simply sent an email replying to Xtra’s request with “yes.” On June 8, Xtra reported that Pride Week was not on the list of 2011 city proclamations, and no one at city hall could say when the mayor planned to sign it.
There was also no confirmation whether Ford would attend the rainbow flag-raising ceremony on June 27, a tradition that marks the start of the festival.
At the Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans Youth Line Community Youth Awards Gala June 10, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam told the audience that Ford’s office has confirmed that he will not attend the ceremony.
In his place, Councillor Frances Nunziata will read the proclamation, Wong-Tam says.
JUNE 8: Will Mayor Rob Ford proclaim Pride Week and raise the rainbow flag this year?
The City of Toronto list of proclamations for 2011 includes Red Tape Awareness Week, Bob Marley Day, Veterinary Week, Administrative Professionals Week, Foot Health Month and Foursquare City Day, to name a few.
But Toronto Pride Week — an event that brings in $136 million in economic revenue, including approximately $40 million spent by local residents — is curiously missing from the list.
Reach for the Rainbow Week? Nope, that’s not Pride, either.
When Xtra called Ford’s cellphone June 7 to ask if he will read the proclamation and raise the rainbow flag, he said, “You have the wrong number” and promptly hung up.
Adrienne Batra, press secretary to the mayor, says Ford hasn’t signed the proclamation yet. She “believes” it will be done on Friday.
Peter McHugh, spokesperson for Pride Toronto (PT), says the flag will be raised at city hall June 27 at noon. But there’s no guarantee Ford will be at the ceremony.
Ford was also a no-show at the Proud of Toronto event at city hall in May and the proclamation for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia at city hall with PFLAG Toronto.
Kristyn Wong-Tam, councillor for Ward 27, sent a letter to the mayor’s office requesting that he sign the proclamation soon. “Why is this not a priority? Why is the mayor keeping the queer community on pins and needles over this?”
“The mayor hasn’t signed it yet,” she says. “I’ve reached out in so many ways to get the mayor to Pride. I even offered to host a Pride brunch for him on July 2.”
“Let’s hope the mayor realizes Pride is right around the corner. Everyone has picked out their Pride outfits. He should too.”
Wong-Tam says she hasn’t received any invitation to read the proclamation on behalf of the mayor. “I hope when the flag raises, the mayor is present,” she says. “If not, it could set the city’s relationship with the LGBT community back.”
If Ford doesn’t attend or send a delegate from his office, she says the community should rally around the rainbow flag anyway.
The rainbow flag is especially significant this year, Wong-Tam says, as news surfaced June 6 that one Catholic school in Mississauga blocked a group of youth from displaying any rainbows at their anti-homophobia event on June 3.
“It’s even more important this year, so we should fly the flag high,” she says. “Let’s set an example for the rest of the city.”