Not only is Toronto Mayor John Tory marching in this year’s Pride parade — he thinks every councillor should, too.
At the raising of the Pride flag in front of city hall on June 22, 2015, Tory told reporters that there was no reason that all members of city council can’t feel pride.
“I would like to think that 45 councillors could say, ‘This is a day to celebrate who we are. This is a day to celebrate how we live together. This is a day to celebrate the fact that we respect everyone’s rights in the city.’”
Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam noted in her speech, to over 100 people assembled, that the record for councillors marching in the parade is currently 19 — she thought that with a mayor who actively supports Pride, more might be inclined to join.
“We’ll see if we can do better than 19,” Tory said. “And then we’ll shoot for 45 sometime in the not-too-distant future.”
Rob Ford did not attend a single Pride parade during his four years as mayor, invoking his now-infamous excuse of having to go to his family’s cottage during Pride weekend.
Though not mentioned by name, Ford’s legacy was still referenced throughout the event. Speakers, who included Wong-Tam, Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois, and Pride Toronto co-chair Aaron GlynWilliams, referenced what they viewed as a positive change in government.
In contrast, Tory told the crowd that he would be attending as many Pride events as he could, including the parade on June 28.
“You have an ally in the mayor of Toronto,” he said, noting in his speech how the parade has evolved from a political act to a celebration. Tory did acknowledge, however, that there is still much work to be done to ensure LGBT equality.
Tory also said he has been a supporter of LGBT rights since before he was mayor, marching in the parade “eight or nine times.”
“I think people know I have a consistent track record and that I’m going to be steadfast in my support, and it’s not a come-and-go thing,” he said.
For Wong-Tam, who led efforts to get councillors marching in the parade during her first term as councillor, the event represented a positive start to Pride week.
“It marks for me the significance of things to come,” she said. “Not only is it the beginning of the summer season but it’s also a celebration of the reminder of the work ahead which is LGBT equality and acceptance and tolerance for everyone.”
Photos by Nick Lachance