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Ottawa Capital Pride festival producer resigns

Mauricio Olivares quits only a month into the job

Mauricio Olivares has resigned as festival producer for Ottawa’s Capital Pride only a month into the job. Credit: Facebook

Mauricio Olivares has resigned as festival producer for Capital Pride.

In a brief phone interview with Daily Xtra on June 1, Olivares confirmed that he resigned “about two weeks ago” but declined to discuss why.

“Right now I actually don’t have any comments about it,” he says. “I just decided it was not the right time for me and I decided it was not what I wanted to do right now.”

I completely disassociate myself with the group, particularly with Tammy Dopson. 

Born in Mexico City, Olivares has been in Ottawa for about three years and emphasized unity when he spoke to Daily Xtra in April, when Capital Pride announced he was the festival producer for this summer’s 30th anniversary Pride festival.

“I will make a call for unity, to join us, to remember we’re one community and we’re all seeking the same goals, which is to improve our community, to make sure our rights are respected, that people are aware of the challenges we’re facing, that we’re a family,” Olivares said at the time. “Like every family, we may have a difference of opinion, but at the end of the day we are stronger together and only together can we overcome our challenges.”

When asked what contingency plans Capital Pride has put in place in light of his departure, Olivares says he doesn’t know.

“I completely disassociate myself with the group, particularly with Tammy Dopson,” he says. “I have absolutely no more association with them.”

Despite such emphatic words, he stopped short of talking about why he resigned his post as festival producer only a month into the job.

“For the sake of the community I’d rather keep my comments to myself,” Olivares says. “I really want to see Pride happen this year. I really hope for the sake of the community that the organizers manage to pull it [off] and do a good job, so I’d just rather keep my comments to myself for the moment.”

With the parade set for Aug 23, Capital Pride has just two and a half months to finish planning the festival. The festival planning already started later than usual this year since Tammy Dopson, a queer realtor who spearheaded the Capital Pride partnership with the Bank Street Business Improvement Area, was building a new organization from the ground up following the previous Pride organization’s bankruptcy.

In an interview with Daily Xtra, Dopson says Olivares cited health reasons when he resigned on May 22. In addition to his resignation letter, all emails, texts and conversations indicated his health was the reason Olivares left his post, she says.

“If there’s something else there we have not been made aware of it,” Dopson says. “If there’s other reasons at hand then he wasn’t forthcoming with us at the time he resigned.”

She acknowledges that Olivares’s departure was a setback, but says the organization doesn’t rest on one person — including herself.

“Yes, this was a wrinkle, but truthfully it’s always going to happen,” Dopson says. “Someone’s going to get sick or be ill . . . It hasn’t affected operations. It’s full steam ahead. No one organization rests on one person. Even if I got run over by a bus tomorrow, things would still move forward because that’s what a good organization is about.”

Dopson says Capital Pride didn’t disclose Olivares’s resignation right away because the organization wanted to have a contingency plan in place, which it will announce shortly.

“We do have something in the wings,” she says. “We’re not going to say anything just yet  . . . I think that we’ve come up with a very good solution — one that was more obvious than we thought — but we’re going to make that announcement on Thursday.”

On June 4, Capital Pride will hold a press conference at 10am, likely at Ottawa City Hall, to announce its plans, Dopson says.

Olivares says leaving his post as festival producer was a very difficult decision, and that he wishes his former colleagues well.

“I wish them good luck and hope that they can pull [off] a good event this year,” he says.