WINNIPEG — The new commanding officer for Manitoba RCMP says he plans to attend the first-ever pride march in Steinbach.
Scott Kolody was announced as the new commander today and immediately issued a statement calling the pride march a celebration of "diversity and inclusion."
Kolody says he and other officers will be on hand July 9 and he will be part of the march.
The RCMP initially denied the march a permit due to street construction but now say they are reassessing the decision.
The planned event has stirred up controversy in the city of 14,000 southeast of Winnipeg — often referred to as the province's bible belt — with many local politicians saying they will not attend.
Conservative member of Parliament Ted Falk has said he won't be there because the event does not reflect his values.
Kolody said he spoke personally with the event's organizer to tell her he will be marching by her side.
"I have also directed the Manitoba RCMP to provide all required resources to ensure participants can walk in Steinbach knowing they are safe, secure and have the RCMP by their side," Kolody said in the statement.
"I will be there. My officers will be there and I know this will be a great event for all."
It's not clear where Kolody and others will be marching. The RCMP say they are still reviewing a permit for the event, which will determine whether the march can be held on the street or on a sidewalk.
"Based on the clear direction of our commanding officer, the RCMP is actively working with the City of Steinbach and the organizers of the Steinbach pride march to determine a city route for the event," RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Bert Paquet said in a statement Monday. "The exact route of the march has not yet been finalized."