Monday, April 7, 2014
Toronto Politicians barred from Beaches Easter parade
Wishing to make the parade a “political-free zone,” the organization recently sent out a memo to community members indicating elected officials — including mayoral candidates — are banned from attending this year’s event.
The memo added the Lions Club wants the focus of the annual parade to be “community and families.”
“We’ve just found it too hard to manage because they don’t adhere to our rules,” Easter parade director Keith Begley said Monday. “They raise their colours and signs when we ask them not to. It’s a courtesy that we invite them in and as it’s gone on, it’s gotten too hard to manage them and we don’t have the manpower to do it.”
About 50,000 people are expected to attend April 20 event.
Begley said about 10 to 15 years ago, parade organizers started to invite elected officials from the neighbourhood to partake in the festivities. With the growth of the parade over the years, politicians from across the city started showing up and marching.
But in recent years, politicians began using the parade as a platform for political messages.
In addition to that, controversy sometimes followed those who marched in city parades.
In 2007, former councillor Sandra Bussin expensed a bunny costume for the Beaches Easter Parade, Mayor Rob Ford threw candy canes at children at the most recent Santa Claus Parade, and taxpayers paid out $1,280 so councillors could toss Mardi Gras beads at the Pride Parade in the summer.
But Begley wants to make it clear this isn’t simply about Rob Ford.
“We can’t stop (politicians) from showing up,” Begley acknowledged. “It’s an election year. We can stop them from marching in the parade. If (Ford) wants, he can work the street, that’s really not up to us. We’ve been called by 10 mayoral electoral candidates and we’ve said ‘no.’”
Ford could not be reached for comment Monday. But mayoral rivals John Tory and Karen Stintz confirmed they were turned away by parade organizers.
“We respect the wishes of the Beaches Lions Club,” Tory’s spokesman Amanda Galbraith said Monday. “Like Torontonians across the city, John will be spending time with his family and wishes everyone a happy Easter.”
Stintz also said she would respect the wishes of organizers.
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