Hot Take Challenge: Pride vs. Police, Police vs. Scrawler
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Hot Take Challenge: Pride vs. Police, Police vs. Scrawler

Starting today, Torontoist introduces Hot Take Challenge, with a look at how The Sun's scribes covered yesterday's news about Pride and police.


Illustration by Brett Lamb

It is said that Toronto’s newspapers are the city’s most reliable source of Hot Takes, and starting this week, this recurring column will look at how the main issue of the day is interpreted from the perspective of some of its most gifted Hot Take purveyors, beginning with a subject that creates annual controversy: the city’s funding of the annual Pride Parade, always a touchy subject for the Toronto Sun based on who is or isn’t allowed to march in the parade. In previous years, the Sun advocated for the former mayor Rob Ford’s right to leave town every Pride weekend instead of participating in the parade, or concentrated its fire on Pride’s inclusion of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. But as these flashpoints have since exited the scene, the Sun had been bereft of an excuse to call for a cut to all municipal funding to Pride…until last year that is, when Black Lives Matter Toronto succeeded at holding up the parade until their demands were met by the Pride Toronto organizers, including that the police no longer be permitted to march in uniform as part of the parade itself, rather that they are merely to be there to maintain security along the parade route.

toronto sun may 9

Columnist Sue-Ann Levy, the Sun‘s self-described “right-wing gay Jewish muckraker” and one of Pride’s most tenacious critics, feels this decision discriminates against one of the most oppressed and marginalized communities in the city in her powerful Sun cover story, “Only Group Marginalized At Pride Are Cops.” Levy is steamin’ mad that Pride keeps lying about something they never actually said, that they were agreeing to a demand from BLM that there be zero police presence at the event (untrue: in fact a police presence at a public event taking place on city streets is in fact a lawful requirement).

In fact, Pride’s new executive director Olivia Nuamah informed the media that the cops are welcome to identify themselves “any way they like”–with t-shirts and ball caps (which can convey some sort of police message) – just not in their official uniforms, with their guns and their cruisers.

So, it’s a dress code issue now, it seems.

Sun columnist and talk radio guy Jerry Agar joins Levy in his condemnation of the parade’s imaginary decision to ban all police from the parade and urges the mayor to punish Pride by cancelling the city’s $260,000 grant to teach them a lesson:

What a crock!

There’s nothing to resolve. Pride is wrong.

If the police–in uniform–are disallowed from the parade, the parade is not inclusive and should not receive public money.

It is not a complicated decision.

The police are a key element of the city.

They represent the people, and to exclude them is to insult the city, making a mockery of the idea that Pride deserves city funding.

It is as if your neighbour told you you are no longer welcome at his house, but he expects you to send an expensive gift to his daughter for her birthday.

So it makes sense with such a marginalized group as the police being disrespected by Pride and the city of Toronto, one would assume that the Sun‘s veteran columnist, Night Scrawler Joe Warmington, would lend his voice to the growing chorus of support for those Who Serve And Protect, but over the weekend Scrawler experienced a run in with the police in Mississauga that must have come as deep shock for a man who has always called for unquestioning respect for authority, regardless of excuses. In his column, “Drought of Basic Human Decency When it Comes to Filling City Coffers,” Scrawler details the experience of getting a parking ticket from an uncaring cop in the middle of a rainstorm while he was picking up his kid from school (a kid who was apparently sent to school even though he had bronchitis and was on antibiotics. Bad news for any kids at the school who were never vaccinated). Scrawler offers a granular second-by-second account of the exchange he had with the police officer:

But it was close to the school door to keep my precious son from getting soaked. My mom stayed in the car while I jumped out to go get him. Realizing it was wet, I ran back and retrieved a towel for him.

I wasn’t long and blocked no one. When I got back, a man in uniform was writing a ticket.

He didn’t say, “Hey it’s raining and I am going to cut you a break.” Or “Hey, I see a grandmother there and clearly you are getting a kid from school.”

No, he said he’s giving me the ticket. He also gave me a lecture on things ranging from how he gives the citation even when somebody is sitting in the car to how come I didn’t park down a side street legally like he did?

That he didn’t have a four-year-old with a whooping cough could be one of the reasons.

He wasn’t interested in hearing any special circumstances like we live nearby and had been at doctors all week and were worried for our boy’s health.

Zero tolerance! Shut up and pay! He is the law!

He scared my son, who wondered why we were in trouble. My boy also got really wet. Thanks, guy.

I was polite and calmly asked him about common sense, discretion, compassion and just basic human decency.

Those questions may be better directed as his superiors.

Yes, Warmington adds that he escalated this parking ticket issue issue all the way up to the mayor’s office (a mayor who presumably has nothing better to do)

Knowing the civil service protects its own more than the citizens who pay for it all, I suspect I’m on the hook for the $55. Turns out you can’t fight parking tickets in court in Mississauga anymore.

But I did receive a friendly message from Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who is looking into it.

And the point to this column is, Joe?

My point is that even though governments have signs and rules to their fill-the-coffers advantage, pulling up for a minute to pick up a child from school in the rain is not parking.

And fining people for being caring parents is not civilized.