Ottawa Police Association urges Capital Pride to keep officers in Pride Parade

The President of the Ottawa Police Association is urging the organizers of the annual Pride Parade to allow uniformed officers to continue to be a part of it.

Matt Skof has penned an open letter to Ottawa Capital Pride, following news that Pride Toronto voted to adopt a list of demands made by Black Lives Matter Toronto last year. One of those demands was the banning of all Toronto Police floats and booths at the Pride parade.

The vote took place at Pride Toronto's annual general meeting on Tuesday. Toronto Pride has since faced considerable backlash on their social media pages in response to the news.

However, it remains unclear just what the vote means. A Pride Toronto member told CTV News this week that a discussion must still be had to determine what police presence, if any, would still be allowed. That issue was not brought up at Tuesday’s AGM.

In Ottawa, Matt Skof wrote the Ottawa Police Association was “concerned that efforts may be made to require Ottawa’s Pride organization to consider a similar motion.”

“I believe it’s a mistake to exclude uniformed police from Pride events,” Skof wrote. “Over the last thirty years Ottawa Pride has built a stronger community, moving us from division to inclusion. It has played a central role in the evolution of individual and group rights in our City.”

Speaking on CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Evan Solomon Thursday afternoon, Skof echoed those sentiments.

“I don’t believe it’s appropriate to be holding a conversation, in regards to a very inclusive function, which is the Pride parade, and then tie it into the conversation around community relations in regards to race,” he said. “First of all, I believe they’re two separate conversations and I don’t think it’s appropriate to have the Pride parade co-opted for a political purpose.”

“I’m not debating there’s not a political aspect with the Pride parade,” Skof added. “What I’m suggesting is that the conversation that they’re trying to have in regards to the BLM movement and their requests from them, I just don’t believe it’s the same topic.”

Black Lives Matter held a sit-in protest at Toronto’s Pride parade last year to issue their list of demands. The sit-in stopped the parade for half an hour.

Skof said Ottawa Police officers, some of whom are LGBTQ, were frustrated with the news out of Toronto this week.

“It’s disappointing, to put it frankly,” he said. “It’s a step backwards. It’s not progressive.”

There has not been any indication at this time that Ottawa Capital Pride was considering banning police from the Pride parade. Ottawa Capital Pride has not yet responded to CFRA’s request for comment.