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Mammoliti fails in attempt to defund Pride Toronto

Ward 7 councillor vows to cut funding for all arts and culture with 'political messaging'

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and Mayor Rob Ford at city council July 12. Credit: Andrea Houston

Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti moved to defund Pride Toronto (PT) July 12, but his motion was soundly defeated.

After a day-long roaring debate about the Jarvis St bike lanes, Mammoliti moved that the city update its “Hate Activity Procedure” to bring it in line with its anti-discrimination policy. The vote, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass, was 19 to 20.

The Hate Activity Procedure essentially states that the City of Toronto is to assist officials in identifying hate-motivated crimes, Councillor Gord Perks explains. It’s unclear how Mammoliti’s change would have affected PT, since the festival is already in compliance with city policy.

Councillor Paula Fletcher tells Xtra that Mammoliti did not even write the motion. “The motion came from the mayor’s office. Mammoliti didn’t write it. Mark Towhey took it back after the vote.”

After the vote, Mammoliti grandstanded for the media. “The reality is there’s legalities attached to the funding, and you can’t take it away based on what’s happened. I wish I could, because if I could I would, but I can’t. You can’t just push people around in this city and get away with it. Some people think they can do that, and I’m here to protect the taxpayers.”

But, when Xtra asked him to clarify his intentions, he refused to answer, instead turning to ask if any other reporters had questions. “No, I don’t talk to you,” he said.

So, another reporter asked a similar question: “What happens now?”

Mammoliti told reporters he “will not sit back” and accept no for an answer. He said he now has “a few months to think about what other steps need to be taken.”

“I know one thing for sure is that no funding should go to any parade or march in the city that has any politics associated to it. None at all, and that will be an attempt by myself, and others, that will probably succeed,” he says. “I’m not happy sending out political messages, and I don’t think that everyone has the right to do it under the taxpayers’ dime, and that’s been happening continually, and it will continue to happen unless someone does something about it. I’m not going to roll over and play dead.”

Mammoliti came under fire recently after attending the Pride Week Dyke March with a video camera in a stated effort of “documenting hate speech against the Jewish community.” Since the march, a few of his fellow city councillors, including Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, have condemned his actions, calling them “weird and creepy.”

After speaking to reporters, Mammoliti took a few shots at Councillor Adam Vaughan, sparring about who is more “creepy.” Mammoliti said videotaping lesbian and bisexual women at the Dyke March is the same as Vaughan’s former career as a television news reporter. “You were the biggest creep around,” Mammoliti says.

“But I always asked permission first. I wasn’t a creep. I was a professional, just like all my colleagues here,” Vaughan says, waving at the gaggle of reporters. “If I acted like you, I’d be creepy… He’s afraid [to talk to Xtra and answer tough questions]. Being labelled a creep by the public and all the major media puts you in a position where you feel vulnerable.”

While the insults flew back and forth, Vaughan rolled his eyes and called Mammoliti a coward. “Even the [Jewish] folks that raised this issue [with Pride] say it’s over. There’s only one person left who’s obsessed about this issue, and you have to entirely question why that is.”

In the weeks leading up to Pride and in the days following the parade, Mammoliti warned that he is poised for another attack against PT funding. But Mammoliti now appears to have been deserted by his former allies and to be alone in his quest to strip funding for all funded cultural and artistic endeavours that carry a political message.