The day after saying he had “no comment” on a controversial decision not to raise the Pride flag at a York Region school board, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has avoided commenting directly on the controversy, reaffirming his commitment to celebrating pride instead.
Answering a question from Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles during question period, Ford said Pride was “a special time for us to recognize and celebrate Ontario’s LGBTQ+ community.”
The premier cited his annual attendance at the York Pride parade as evidence of his commitment.
“I look forward (to going) again, for my third or fourth year, going down to the York Pride parade,” Ford said. “We’re going to go down there. We’re going to celebrate. We’re going to have fun.”
The Ford government is under pressure from critics and opposition parties to intervene after the York Catholic District School Board voted Monday not to fly the Pride flag in the month of June.
The decision came after months of tense meetings, controversy and pleas from student trustees to display the LGBTQ symbol on school property.
Both the Ontario NDP and Liberals urged Stephen Lecce to use his powers as education minister to compel the school board to fly the flag in solidarity with LGBTQ2 students.
Speaking on Wednesday, Lecce said he had set out “a clear expectation that all publicly funded schools — English and French, Catholic and public — will find meaningful, positive ways to celebrate Pride” in a memo.
That memo, seen by Global News, did not mention the flag raising controversy at York Catholic board.
The Ford government has used its powers over school boards in the past. Lecce issued 27 directives to the Peel District School Board after issues with anti-Black racism and discrimination were investigated in late-2019 and early 2020.
In 2022, he also ordered York District School Board to “honour” Queen Elizabeth II after her death.
“Words are important but only effective when followed by real action,” Ontario NDP MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam told the government in the legislature on Wednesday.