Ontario Premier Doug Ford marched in the York Region Pride parade Saturday with police officers from the local service.
Ford has said he won’t participate in Toronto Pride, the province’s largest parade celebrating the LGBTQ community, because of its decision to ban uniformed officers from marching.
The premier was pictured wearing a Pride T-shirt with York Region police insignia on the sleeve. He marched with Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, Health Minister Christine Elliott and MPP Stephen Lecce.
Toronto Pride parade first banned uniformed officers in 2017 over concerns of racial profiling, which were brought up by Black Lives Matter Toronto when they stalled the parade in protest the year before.
Police have also been criticized by Toronto’s LGBTQ community for their handling of investigations into missing people from the gay village. Pride organizers listed ongoing anger about perceived police inaction as a reason from barring them again this year.
This will be the second year in a row that Ford won’t participate in the event.
The premier had previously said he would attend other Pride parades that allowed uniformed officers when his schedule allowed it.
Some on social media were quick to note that Ford said he would not participate in the Toronto Raptors celebration parade Monday because he didn’t think it was “the time for politicians to be in any parade or anything.”
“He believes the parade should be about the team and, more importantly, the fans who have supported the team throughout this incredible journey,” Ford’s spokesperson Ivana Yelich said.
She said he was “thrilled to march” with York Regional Police in the parade.
However, Ford’s decision to appear at the York Region parade might put pressure on federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who hasn’t attended any Pride parades since winning his party’s leadership. Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper also did not attend Pride events.
With files from The Canadian Press.