Shortly after 7 p.m. ET last night, Faith Goldy posted a picture to Twitter. In it, the white supremacist fringe candidate for Toronto mayor was seen posing with a large group of people, including two uniformed police officers and their cruiser.
Captioned “we have the best volunteers, don’t we folks!?” the photo set off a Twitter firestorm over uniformed police officers being described as volunteers working on the mayoral campaign of a woman who has appeared on a neo-Nazi podcast, endorsed Richard Spencer’s manifesto calling for an “ethno-state” for the “Aryan” race and publicly recited the 14 words, a white supremacist mantra, describing it as something that shouldn’t be controversial.
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No corrective action
Mark Pugash, director of corporate communications for the Toronto Police, told Ricochet the officers were responding to a call about possible trouble, that they did not know who Goldy was, and that they “did nothing wrong.”
He argued that police officers are routinely asked to take photos with people on the street, and anyone can do anything with those photos later.
Asked if there would be any corrective action to avoid such situations in the future, Pugash responded with an emphatic no. He said again that the officers had done nothing wrong, there was no problem with the picture being taken, and the Toronto Police Service would not be issuing any directives to uniformed officers about their interactions with political candidates, or this candidate in particular, or taking any steps to avoid it happening again in the future.
'Inaction isn't acceptable'
For Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, that’s simply not good enough.
“The public needs to know that police will enforce our laws against hate groups, and posing for a picture with Faith Goldy sends the opposite message. Inaction isn’t acceptable because they need to undo the message that was just sent, and ensure this situation isn’t repeated,” he said.
In a statement to the Toronto Star, Goldy wrote that “no uniformed officers have ever volunteered on my campaign” and that they notified police when they received threats from “Antifa and other Alt Left hate groups” regarding the volunteer canvassing blitz they had organized.
She added that hers is the only campaign with a tough-on-crime message, she plans to reinstitute TAVIS (a gang taskforce disbanded in 2015) and the practice of police carding, and she loves “our men and women in uniform.”
'They still sent the wrong message'
If the officers were responding to a call about a threat to a political candidate’s event, and they were confronted by a team of people holding clipboards and pens and wearing campaign buttons, with a candidate wearing a t-shirt reading “Faith for Toronto,” is it possible that they didn’t know Goldy is running for office?
For Balgord, it’s a tough sell.
“With all the clipboards and pins they would have known she was campaigning for mayor. Whether or not they participated in that campaign photo knowing she associates with alt-right neo-Nazis, they still sent the wrong message to the public,” he said.