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Capital Pride creditors doubtful about being paid

Bankrupt Ottawa group had $130,000 in debts

BDO Canada Limited, acting as trustee for Capital Pride, held a creditors' meeting on March 9.  Credit: Alex Kopje/iStock/Thinkstock

Things don’t look good for the creditors of Ottawa’s former Pride organization.

While former Pride board member Peter Zanette signed and delivered bankruptcy papers to BDO Canada Limited on Jan 7, the papers weren’t officially filed until Feb 13. The organization’s name was listed on the bankruptcy papers as Pride Week Committee (National Capital Region). Acting as trustee, BDO held a creditors’ meeting on March 9 at the Cartier Place Suite Hotel. Despite a long list of identified creditors of the former Pride organization, only two creditors attended the meeting.

“I wasn’t surprised,” says André P Bolduc, senior vice-president of BDO Canada Limited. “We didn’t get many proofs of claims from creditors and I think creditors probably moved on. It’s been well publicized, what happened. I think creditors knew that they weren’t getting anything.”

The creditors who attended, though, say they expected to see more people come out to the meeting.

“I was kind of surprised when I walked in and it was just Rob [Swartz] sitting there,” says Brodie Fraser, who formerly acted as Pride’s sponsorship and fundraising coordinator. “As someone who is owed a substantial amount, I would imagine someone who was owed as much or more would be there.”

Fraser is listed as being owed $12,471. The money represents the commission he earned based on the sponsorship dollars that he brought in, he says.

Swartz, who was Pride’s secretary, is listed as being owed $882 for expenses he paid out of pocket for and haven’t been reimbursed, he says. Other former Pride board members and coordinators are also listed as creditors, including Hannah Watt, Ashley Blackwood, YanBin Yuan and Tara Shaw. Jodie McNamara, Pride’s former chair, says it wasn’t unusual for board members and coordinators to pay out of pocket for expenses, but in this case they weren’t reimbursed. McNamara says she also is owed $800 but isn’t seeking repayment.

Unfortunately, it might be a moot point. In the bankruptcy papers under liabilities, $130,333 is listed as owing to creditors. Under assets, all that’s listed is $5,878 in cash and $15,080.60 under accounts receivable.

The cash will be “taken up by professional fees and costs,” including the trustee’s costs of administering the bankruptcy, Bolduc says. In terms of the businesses listed as owing money to Pride, it’s too early to tell, he says.

“We are following up with each organization to see what funds can be realized and to figure out what they owe, if anything,” Bolduc says. “We are not in a position at this time to speculate on how much will actually be collected.”

He also stresses that the list of creditors, and the amounts they claim they are owed, was provided by the former Pride organization. BDO can’t comment on individual claims at this time, Bolduc says.

Overall, though, it’s not an optimistic picture, he says.

“Creditors are not going to recover anything from the bankruptcy and typically they would write it off as a business,” Bolduc says. “It’s a bad debt. When there are assets in the bankruptcy or there’s funds or there’s something they would get a pro rata portion.”

The creditor with the largest claim is Guillaume Tasse, who provided infrastructure for the Pride festival and says he is owed $42,000.

“I don’t think I’ll see any money,” Tasse says. “I paid all my subcontractors, I paid all my suppliers and at the end of the day life goes on. It’s an expensive lesson learned.”

Tasse says he usually is paid in advance with a certified cheque, but made an exception in Pride’s case. Going forward, he’ll always ask for money up front, he says.

When his $10,000 deposit cheque bounced post-festival, Tasse says he filed a complaint with the Ottawa Police Service but says he hasn’t heard from police.

While the organization itself, community members and media referred to the organization as Capital Pride for years, Tammy Dopson told Daily Xtra the name had never been trademarked until she recently incorporated and trademarked it herself. Dopson, the spokesperson for a new Pride organization, says the new Pride organization and festival will use the name Capital Pride.

Fraser is in the unique position of being owed money by the former Pride organization while also working with Dopson to establish the new Capital Pride.

“I’m happy to be looking forward,” Fraser says. “Pride doesn’t stop. It’s its own thing and it’s going to continue.”