Toronto
2 min

I’ll get you my pretties

And your arts funding, too

MISTY COLOURED MEMORIES. Tom Jakobek wants you to like him. Credit: Louise Muretich

Fifth place mayoral candidate Tom Jakobek met with Xtra editors because, he says, the paper had in the past called him homophobic and he wants to set the record straight.



Jakobek has a provocative version of straight. Like when he made efforts in the early 1990s to deprive Buddies In Bad Times Theatre of city capital funding for its Alexander St space.



“It wasn’t a question of voting against Buddies. it was a matter of saying there was only so much money in the pot,” says Jakobek. “Why would I open another theatre and spend $4.3-million on something – quite frankly, the business plan was crummy. [Buddies founder] Sky Gilbert – do you build a whole theatre around one guy who’s a little bit on the eccentric side? No. I disagreed with it from a purely financial standpoint.”



But a quote in Xtra from that period suggests Jakobek’s motivation wasn’t so pure. He also had content qualms, particularly about SM-related programming.



“Buddies is suggesting that SM is a gay issue,” Jakobek told Xtra at the time. “They are going to incite hatred. They are going to incite people who are anti-gay by pushing that [SM] issue to that point.”



Jakobek admitted to once voting against funding for the AIDS Committee Of Toronto. And only to make a point.



“We had a big debate that year. It was a debate over whether other levels of government were doing their share. I remember it very well,” says Jakobek.



But Jakobek’s memory falls somewhat short. In addition to voting at least once against ACT funding, Jakobek and several other councillors unsuccessfully voted in 1993 to prevent ACT from distributing a safer SM pamphlet because it was too explicit. Jakobek says he doesn’t recall that kerfuffle.



“I’ve never had a problem with ACT programming,” says Jakobek. “I’ve always had opinions, but I’ve never dictated what people do.”



In 1990, when then mayor Art Eggleton refused to proclaim Pride, council itself proclaimed it. On a technicality, some councillors, including Jakobek, forced another vote and repealed the proclamation. Jakobek has no recollection of these intrigues.



“When was that? I have no idea. Find out for me. I was there for 18 years,” says Jakobek.



Former Liberal (and then independent) MP John Nunziata is in fourth place. His law and order campaign would see homeless people arrested and would see “community standards,” particularly with regard to sexuality, enforced against organizations getting city arts funding.



“Whether it’s the gay or lesbian community or the heterosexual community, there is a line. To some there is no line. To me there is a line. I have young children. There are certain things I think would be totally inappropriate for young people,” says Nunziata.



Would Nunziata stop a theatre from presenting material that crosses his line, even if only adults attend?



“I would look at the law,” says Nunziata. “We shouldn’t be making exceptions for one group or another…. The mayor of Toronto shouldn’t be a trailblazer. I would rather funding be at arm’s length. I don’t think council and elected officials should be deciding which group gets funding…. If community standards are violated, the arm’s length organization should be taken to task. They should be reflecting community standards.”



And what crosses Nunziata’s line?



“What you’re able to see on television these days…. I went to my son’s room the other day and he’s watching Saving Silverman on TV. It was something I didn’t want him to be seeing at his age.”



The 2001 PG-13 film stars Jason Biggs; it has a joke about being in a gay relationship with Neil Diamond. Nunziata’s three children are aged six to 11.



* Toronto’s municipal elections are on Mon, Nov 10. For more information, check out www.toronto.ca/elections.