Ward 27 candidate Ken Chan won’t say publicly whether Pride Toronto (PT) should censor its participants. Yet he’s won the endorsement of Keep Pride About Pride — a Facebook group dedicated to the ouster of a controversial group from the parade — based on private discussions between Chan and the group’s founder, Noah Gurza.
Chan insists that Gurza’s endorsement stems from his positions on streetscaping and taxation.
In March, PT announced that it would vet all signs before the parade. After queers protested the plan, the policy was rescinded. Then in May, PT’s board announced it would ban the term “Israeli apartheid,” a decision that was also later revoked amid protests.
Both decisions were influenced by pressure from the city. Staff suggested that the presence of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) could theoretically violate the city’s antidiscrimination policy. Retiring Ward 27 councillor Kyle Rae also wrote to PT urging intervention.
Simon Wookey — a candidate who, like Chan, has Liberal Party ties — has publicly said that he supports withholding city funds from PT unless it bans QuAIA. But all the gay and trans candidates have condemned the city’s role in the controversy and say QuAIA should be allowed to march — except Chan.
“I have looked at the candidates in the Ward 27 race and I am supporting Ken Chan,” reads Gurza’s note, sent to the Keep Pride About Pride Facebook group. “He is a pragmatic individual who has the best chance to keep [Kristyn] Wong-Tam out of City Hall. I have met with him several times and he seems like we would have our interests well represented.”
In a two-and-a-half-hour editorial board meeting with Xtra, Chan repeatedly refused to say how PT and the city should respond to QuAIA.
“What we saw in 2009 and this Pride clearly indicates that there needs to be a true dialogue and a discussion amongst that community… about what Pride means,” he said.
At public debates going back to June, Chan has said that he will wait for the City of Toronto to make a decision about whether QuAIA breaches the city’s anti-discrimination policy before announcing what he’d do as a councillor.
In a Sept 27 interview, Chan says he’s “still reserving judgment” about whether the group should be allowed to march.
But he says that this election shouldn’t be about QuAIA, pointing out that the Toronto Metropolitian Community Church’s Brent Hawkes is leading a consultation group designed to deal with the issue.
“No one at the door cares about QuAIA, even gay people. They care about the future of the village; they’re asking about high rents,” he says.
Noah Gurza of Keep Pride About Pride and Simon Wookey were not immediately available for comment.