It’s not often that we in the capital bother to compare ourselves to Toronto, and it’s probably even less often that we come out on top in that comparison. And what do you expect? They’re a bustling, international metropolis, and we’re a quaint little island community — it’s apples and oranges.
But with the mayor of Toronto’s recent decision to spend the Pride Festival at his vacation home (excused only by the mantra, “My family comes first”), all that has changed. We’ve been given the opportunity to see how we — or more specifically, our elected officials — measure up.
First up, mayors: While Mayor Rob Ford spent Toronto’s Pride Parade quietly relaxing by the lake, our own Dean Fortin was out late Friday night at the Pride Fetish Fashion event at Paparazzi Nightclub, watching the bar’s owners announcing their annual donation to the Victoria Pride Society.
What’s more, says Fortin: “One of the things that we’ve been proud of is that for the first time ever we’ve [marched in the parade] as a mayor and council.” He adds, “It’s been something that we really felt we needed to go out and make a statement about. That we belong to and totally support an inclusive community . . . this is what makes our city rich.” While individual councillors have participated in the past, Fortin says this is the first year that council as a whole represented the city in the parade.
To top off the eastern snub, Ford and a small group of Toronto councillors have been campaigning to cut city funding for their parade. Meanwhile, the City of Victoria is a platinum sponsor for the Victoria Pride Society, which brings the capital a range of Pride events every year.
Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like Ford’s absence made any dent in the spirits of Toronto’s queer community — nor should it. Ultimately, if all of Victoria City Council had stayed home to watch TV rather than march in the parade, we can be sure that the rest of the capital would still flood the streets in celebration.
Still, it’s nice to know that your elected officials have your back every now and then. M