One of the things I have been meaning to look up about John Tory, a current Mayoral candidate in Toronto, is his views on our LGBT community. Thankfully, Vote Compass, which I mentioned yesterday, helped answer my questions:
It is a known fact that during his time as Mayor, Rob Ford did not attend the annual Pride Parade - it always occurred on the same weekend that he traditionally took his family to the cottage. Of course, I think it would be better if he did a bit of schedule rearranging to attend at least once during the four years, but on a basic level I don't disagree with his choice. Family is important. We should not ask our politicians to sacrifice their entire home life to be in the public service. So, in the same vain, if his family tradition was to spend the weekend of Nuit Blanche away, I would not begrudge him missing this key cultural event every year.
However, when a politician does miss an important Toronto event (festival, demonstration, parade, council meeting, opening, concert, etc.) they need to really make up for it in that community. Their choice should be made apologetically, with compromise regarding an alternate way they can support before they leave and/or when they return. It became more and more evident that Rob Ford's absence during the Pride Parade connected to his complete lack of respect for the Toronto LGBT community and some degree of homophobia. Completely unacceptable for any Torontonian, even more so in our Mayor!
So, I am happy to see that John Tory (and Olivia Chow) believe it is very important for the mayor to march in the Pride Parade. And, as you can see above, I only somewhat agree with that statement. If they had a long standing prior family commitment I would forgive them. But I would require that they showed their support strongly and loudly in other ways: attend as many other Pride Week events as possible, meet often with LGBT groups to see how City Hall can better serve them, MC a drag show, the ideas are endless. Bottom line: You can miss it but you still need to support it.