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Pride, Prejudice and the Nature of PR - Raymond Helkio - MyGayToronto

Pride, Prejudice and the Nature of PR
13 April 2018.

Peterborough Polices Services just announced a confidential community survey led by civilian member Peter Williams. While this may see like a small step (and it is) , but it's a public step, led by their police services, with the aim of improving relations and effective partnerships. Meanwhile in Toronto, our police chief is busy defending himself while the force's appointed LGBT liaison officer Danielle Botineau appears in countless photo ops, media releases and news interviews that all speak to "wanting" better relations but lacking anything remotely resembling an action. Having called and emailed her office over the past few years, I've never had a reply so all I can tell you about what they have done is from their website and as you'll see, the substance is missing. In the place of facts, stated goals or anything tangible that would suggest a dialogue is taking place you can find plenty of photos of smiling cops with community groups, but I fail to see why they need to take and post pictures of themselves doing their job. It's not the cops in the photos who are to blame, it's the police as an organization that has set it up this way when what's needed is to shift some of that bloated public relations budget into the community development side. 

Every year when Pride is just on the horizon, the community finds itself in locked in a battle over what Pride really means. It's reassuring to listen to my peers fight over who should be in the parade because it means people care. Without the controversy, it'd be nothing more than a party, and while I love a party, it's rare that lasting change will spring from a hangover. 

Just like a Canadian winter, Pride is our annual chance to revisit what happened last year and kick things forward a little. And just like winter, we Torontonians will complain about it every year as if it's a new thing. Annually, the city flips out after the first snowfall immediately followed by, "Can you believe how cold it is?/There's a foot of snow, how will I get to work?/This winter is soooooo long!" Really people, it's Canada and it's like this every year so deal with it.

Enduring the snow is why we are so especially fond of warm summer days. The cold and the heat will continue year and after year, as will Pride. With each issue that raises it's head, we have another chance to impact history and in the process become stronger as a community. Like winter, Pride will come and go this year and we can pretend the controversies are new but they never were. As Pride Toronto and the cops continue to wig-out over uniforms, the relationship suffers. We're going into our second year of public debate and yet everyone's talking, but has been little no action in that entire time. It's easy to paint each fiasco as if it's an anomaly, yet these are potential turning points, not just for our community, but for Toronto as a whole. We'll get there, but not until the question shifts from "Should cops be allowed to wear uniforms in our parade?" to "When we can we sit down and talk?"

 

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