February 6, 2023
It was 42 years ago tonight, the day after the Toronto bathhouse raids, that angry and oppressed queers and their supporters amassed collective power and took to the streets against police violence. The No Pride in Policing Coalition has documented how the Pride Toronto Corporation has abandoned its roots and mandate to fight for liberation for us all. For over six years, the Pride Toronto membership has consistently criticized its Board and Executive Directors for their lack of transparency and accountability to the membership, and in particular to those most marginalized in our community, and those who actually helped to start Pride in Toronto in the struggle against police violence and oppression.
All of the questions and points we raise below have been raised at Pride Toronto AGMs, SGMs and the recent Q & A with the Executive Director. None has ever been adequately responded to.
In the current context of escalating policing and carceral injustice, what actions has Pride Toronto taken against John Tory's use of the police and private security to viciously attack the encampments of unhoused people, including Indigenous, Black, and many queer, trans and Two-Spirit people? Why does Pride Toronto continue to attend and give support to mayoral and official city functions?
We call on Pride Toronto to disengage from offices and funding that support increased policing, surveillance, and incarceration of Black, Indigenous, racialized, poor, and other marginalized people in our communities.
Why did Pride Toronto not vociferously and publicly challenge the appointment of the new Toronto Chief of Police, Myron Demkiw, who was actively involved in the Pussy Palace raids and attacks on Black communities? Why did they support and work with an increased Toronto police presence at Pride 2022 and call this work ‘harm reduction’ when they know this police presence increases harm and violence for many in our communities? Why would Pride Toronto rather ally with the police than with those most affected by police violence, including Black, Indigenous and racialized communities, and queer and trans people?
We call on Pride Toronto to demand the police stop their violence towards members of our communities and refuse to work with the police as a violent and racist institution.
Members of Pride Toronto called out their Board on its fraudulent use of government funds and exploitation of Indigenous peoples, which resulted in a vague apology and a limited KPMG review. This produced no transparency or accountability. We have found out since that Pride Toronto exploited Cree artist Kent Monkman's name on yet another $1M Ontario Federal Development grant.
We call on Pride Toronto to commit to full and transparent accountability processes that centre the Indigenous people and communities they’ve harmed through their colonial fraud and to make concrete reparations to them.
After Pride Toronto membership rejected their accounting firm, the Board selected another firm for membership to vote on but kept the name of this new firm secret until partway through the Special General Meeting at which the vote took place. This lack of transparency prevented members from doing due diligence prior to the meeting, resulting in the selection of firm Crowe Soberman LLP who have ties to organizations and “charities” that directly support the ongoing colonization of Palestine. According to the accounting firm’s website, its treasurer is a board member of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which is complicit in the continued dispossession of Palestinians from their lands, covering up the lands of ethnically cleansed and demolished Palestinian villages, and has been charged with practicing institutional discrimination against non-Jewish citizens of Israel by Israel’s Attorney General and the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Pride Toronto’s continued complicity in colonialism here and abroad reminds us of when its Board tried to ban both the term “Israeli Apartheid” and the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from participation in the Pride parade, a decision that was overturned through grassroots mobilization and community outrage.
We demand that Pride Toronto end its relationship with this accounting firm, reject non-disclosure agreements and processes that deceive and misinform the membership, and make anti-colonialism a priority in their work.
The form of organization taken up by Pride Toronto relies on corporate and state funding and replicates corporate forms of organizing with Executive Directors and Boards of Directors who are responsible to the corporation instead of the membership and communities. The corporate structure of Pride Toronto and its choice to accept sponsorships from organizations such as TD bank, a corporation involved in attacks on Indigenous people (including the Wet'suwet'en) and that funds climate destruction, will never work for the liberation of us all.
We call for a Pride Toronto that is accountable to all of us, particularly Black, Indigenous, racialized, disabled, poor, unhoused, drug-using, sex worker, queer, trans and Two-Spirit people, and for a Pride that actively works for decolonization, abolition, and towards sustainable futures and real social justice.
The No Pride in Policing Coalition is a multi-racial queer and trans group. We formed in 2018 to support the decision of the Toronto Pride membership to keep the Police out of participation in the Pride Parade and festival. In 2020, in the context of the global rebellion against anti-Black racism and the police, we adopted the position to defund and abolish the police and in 2021 extended that to include the abolition of prisons and carceral injustice in all its forms. In 2020, 2021, and 2022 we organized Abolitionist Pride events and will continue this work in 2023.