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Capital Pride board reveals that chair resigned during Pride

Micheal Lafontaine censured for unilateral decision-making

Capital Pride 2013 chair Micheal Lafontaine and Councillor Katherine Hobbs. Credit: Bradley Turcotte

The board of Capital Pride (CP) revealed Sept 9 that 2013 chair Micheal Lafontaine had resigned on the night of Pride, Aug 25.

In a written statement sent to Xtra, the board says it collectively censured Lafontaine on July 31, the day before the official CP media launch, after he “repeatedly made unilateral decisions on behalf of the organization without consulting the other members of the committee or informing the areas of the organization directly impacted by his decisions.”

The board then passed a resolution that vice-chair of communications Brodie Fraser and vice-chair of operations Jodie McNamara would co-chair the festival until the annual general meeting (AGM), set for Oct 16.

“Micheal remained as chair, but he was told to take his direction from us,” Fraser tells Xtra.

Following the motion of censure, Lafontaine continued “to act in a manner that was detrimental to the organization,” the statement says.

These acts included appointing a community member to fill the vice-chair of operations position, before McNamara assumed the role, and developing an “un-authorized” cellphone app that made information public before the media launch, McNamara alleges.

“He just informed everybody that this community member is going to be our vice-chair of operations after our vice-chair of operations had resigned, disregarding due process, which requires approval of new directors, with a secondary approval process of an appointment to the executive,” McNamara says. “He was notified of that fact before the person had even come to the meeting. He ignored that direction and invited that person to come anyway. That was one of a string of similar things.”

Lafontaine was not present during the festival’s busiest days, Aug 24 and 25.

“I really didn’t know what happened or why he didn’t show up,” Fraser says. “But he really obviously regrets not being there.”

Lafontaine refused to comment for this story. In a written statement dated Sept 10, he says he resigned from CP for personal reasons, effective Aug 25.

“The decision has not been easy and [I] feel it is best I step down immediately,” Lafontaine writes.

“Volunteering for Capital Pride for the past 16 years has given me the opportunity to meet some terrific people in all areas that Capital Pride touches, including InterPride and Fierte Canada Pride. I will miss the daily interaction when I am no longer involved and wish the organization the best.

“I am thankful for the many experiences provided and having assisted in pulling together Pride Weeks that have been successful over the 16 years I have been involved,” the letter concludes.

McNamara says she didn’t notice any real difference in the festival’s execution this year but says she was “disappointed and deeply unimpressed” by Lafontaine’s absence.

Aside from Lafontaine’s resignation and censure, Fraser says this year’s Pride celebrations were a huge success, breaking several records.

“With the historical aspect of bringing it to the Village for the first time, it felt special. It’s always got a special feel, but this one had a community feeling to it,” Fraser says.

Much of the focus at this year’s event was on the plight of gay people around the world, and Fraser says CP’s partnership with Amnesty International will continue next year.

“It was great to be able to work with them, with their reputation with human rights. I also wanted to create a partnership with them this year to enhance the partnership next year when WorldPride is the focus,” he says. “We want to bring an international aspect to it even more so next year.”

As for the future of the board, Fraser says he will not seek reelection at next month’s AGM.

“I hope to still contribute. It’s an organization and a cause that is close to my heart. I really love working with the community and getting to know the complex, niched, cross-cutting community.”

McNamara will continue to sit on the board. Her two-year term expires next year.