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Capital Pride releases new statement on accounting issues

Board says it will provide details on the situation ‘as they emerge’

Members of the Capital Pride board say they are working with experts to assess the situation after financial irregularities came to light following the 2014 festival. Numerous vendors contracted by Capital Pride allege that their payment cheques have bounced. Credit: Ben Welland

Capital Pride board members released a statement on Friday, Sept 5, saying they are continuing to investigate the situation surrounding alleged accounting irregularities that resulted in a number of festival vendors not being paid.

“Capital Pride is working with experts to assess documentation that came to light upon a post-festival review,” the statement reads. “We are taking this time to thoroughly examine the materials prior to presenting them to our stakeholders, the Ottawa-Gatineau LGBT community and our allies.” Matt Blenkarn, Capital Pride media coordinator, told Xtra in an email that the board is continuing to defer to official statements on the matter.

The Ottawa Citizen reported Sept 4 that contractor Guillaume Tasse is owed $42,000 by Capital Pride. Tasse also alleged that a $10,000 deposit cheque had bounced. Xtra contacted Tasse for comment but has not heard back as of Sept 5.

Jean-François Meloche, who handles rentals and sales for Wall Sound and Lighting, says that he was contracted by Tasse to provide sound and lighting production for the main stage at Capital Pride and that he was expecting to be paid following the show. The company has also provided staging equipment for Bluesfest and Folkfest.

Meloche says that financial discrepancies such as these are not unheard of in the stage rental business. “Some people definitely try to go to big,” he says. “Now [Capital Pride], I think, has been around long enough that it was kind of surprising when I saw the news yesterday.” He couldn’t confirm how much Wall Sound and Lighting is owed but says it is a substantial amount. “I’m just looking to see what’s going to happen and when I can maybe get paid or maybe not,” he says.

Main-stage producer Sebastien Provost and Montreal DJ Stephan Grondin, who were both involved with the entertainment at Pride, also allege that cheques made out to them had bounced. Grondin told Xtra that two cheques made out to him had bounced and that he was “not happy” about the situation. He did not confirm what amounts he was owed.

Grondin alleges that of the two cheques made out to him, one was from the Bank Street BIA. However, BIA head Christine Leadman says that all cheques issued through the BIA are City of Ottawa cheques. She says that when the city’s financial department followed the cheque, they determined that it had been deposited on Aug 27 and cleared. “I gave [Grondin] the cheque myself the night of his event, which was on the 22nd,” Leadman says. “I don’t know what the confusion is in terms of his bank, but it’s not related to our cheque.”

Leadman also says that she issued city cheques to numerous other suppliers and that none of these have bounced. Calls made by Xtra to the city’s financial department have not been returned as of Sept 5. 

Provost, meanwhile, told the Citizen that a $24,000 cheque he deposited to his own account before buying alcohol for the festival bounced, leaving his account overdrawn by about $15,000. Attempts to reach Provost for comment Sept 5 proved unsuccessful.

The mood in the Village was one of shock and dismay as word about the financial issues spread. Business owners and passersby speculated about the situation, with some saying it was an unfortunate blow after the success and growth the festival has enjoyed in recent years.

“This is a very sad thing to be happening,” says Wilde’s co-owner Rob Giacobbi. “I think the Pride committee, especially in the past few years, what they’ve produced with the Pride parade has been a fantastic thing. It’s kind of sad to see. It’s like waking up after a big party with a huge hangover.”

A spokesperson for the Ottawa Police Service could not comment on whether an investigation is taking place or whether the police had been contacted regarding the allegations.

Xtra is following this story.