(Courtesy of Blake Harris)

Members of Pride Toronto are upset with the executive decision to invite uniformed police officers to participate in this year’s pride parade.

Pride Toronto members are calling on the organization’s director, Olivia Nuamah, to resign after she called a vote on inviting uniformed police officers to participate in this year’s parade, without consulting the entire membership.

The membership voted against police participation at the 2019 event by a slim margin of 163-161 at Ryerson University on Jan. 21.  Nuamah and the board called the vote.

One day before the vote, NOW Magazine published a Pride Toronto document sent out to members ahead of the vote that outlined the organization’s financial situation.

The document states the organization’s position on police participation has been under reconsideration since the “political climate changed” in 2018. It also states Pride Toronto is facing mounting debt as a result of sponsorship cuts.

Beverly Bain, a professor at the University of Toronto, is one of the members calling for Nuamah’s resignation over the lack of consultation and transparency about the vote.

“It’s besides the point whether it’s financial or not, but if that was the case, why not bring that to the meeting and discuss it,” Bain said. “Instead, the executive director took a unilateral decision and went ahead and invited the police,”

Members within Pride Toronto have now lost confidence in the group’s leadership, according to Bain, who added the vote just affirmed the director should resign.

Nuamah did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

She did, however, respond to criticism in an interview with CBC, pushing back against complaints about her mishandling of the issue. She said she has no plans to resign.

Nuamah wrote an op-ed for Now Magazine in December, in which she explained a vote to lift the Pride police ban was due to the current efforts to start a new relationship with the Toronto Police.

Pride Toronto members have already voted against police participating in the parade for the past two years in support of Black Lives Matter, according to Bain.

“Many of us who are part of the membership saw this as the executive director and board’s decision to subvert and undermine the decision of the membership,” said Bain.

Days before the vote, nearly 244 new members registered to join the organization. As a result, the amount of eligible voters doubled. Bain said the process was undemocratic.

Nuamah has denied the allegation that the group tried to “manipulate” the recent vote on the matter.

Gary Kinsman, a retired professor, member of Pride Toronto and member of No Pride in Policing Coalition (NPPC), has been very vocal about his disappointment with the executive board’s decision to bring forth another vote.

The members of Pride Toronto have been very clear about their position on police participation in Pride, said Kinsman.

He has also confirmed that on the night before the vote, double the amount of people were given membership status.

“There are two ways to become a member, one is to pay a fee and wait 60 days, and the other is if you volunteer a certain amount hours, but you still have to wait 60 days. So it is hard to that all of these people were able to become members just the night before the vote.”

Despite an influx of new members, the NCCP was pleased they were still able to pull through and win the vote by a slim margin, said Kinsman.

Mayor John Tory told reporters he was “very disappointed” to learn the results of the vote. Many Pride Toronto members do not consider Tory an ally of the community, said Bain.

“John Tory has no place in making the kinds of statements he is making. We are not accountable to him we are not accountable to the state as queers and trans in the city we do not have to account to John Tory for our decision-making,” Bain added.

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