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Pride to review honoree elections process

Pride Toronto is reviewing the process for choosing its grand marshal and honoured groups after a nominee raised concerns that proper procedure wasn’t followed.

Todd Klinck, coowner of the pansexual club Goodhandy’s, says the nomination and voting process that took place at last month’s Pride general meeting was disorganized and flawed, and left him feeling frustrated. Klinck was nominated for grand marshal alongside fellow Goodhandy’s coowner Mandy Goodhandy.

“I was disappointed when we lost, but less for the reason that we lost and more based on the frustration I felt while at the meeting,” says Klinck.

He says neither he nor Goodhandy was informed by Pride of the Jan 29 meeting nor that they would be expected to address the audience through a timed speech. He says he found out about the speech the moment his name was called and had to make it up on the spot, while other nominees had come prepared with written notes.

“I was frustrated at not being warned that I should have prepared a speech, and I was also frustrated with my own lack of ability to think on my feet and come up with something compelling on the spot,” he says.

Klinck also says Goodhandy — not having been informed that her attendance was required — wasn’t at the meeting, which Klinck fears may have been negatively interpreted by some voters.

Fatima Amarshi, Pride Toronto’s executive director, says that the nomination process is currently managed by a team of busy volunteers and that the failure to notify all of the nominees was the result of human error.

“Once we heard from Goodhandy’s that they had never been contacted by anyone from Pride Toronto it was clear that a mistake was made,” says Amarshi. “Our volunteers work hard on their Pride projects in their spare time and this year they did their best again, but obviously a mistake was made and one of the nominees on the list, Goodhandy’s, was not contacted as they should have been. All nominees, past and present, should have been notified by our team of volunteers… and that was an oversight on our part.”

Amarshi says the usual nomination process involves volunteers receiving nomination forms, contacting nominees to inform them they’ve been nominated, getting their consent to put them on the ballot and asking them to come to the meeting with a prepared speech.

More than 200 people showed up at the general meeting which left Pride scrambling to print up additional ballots and resulted in written bios being given out to voters on an inconsistent basis.

Klinck says there is room for improvement on the part of Pride in the nomination process.

“I do find it odd that they only expected 50 to 75 voters,” says Klinck. “To me this means that in the past the decision must have been made in a rather insular environment. Why not get more creative about this, let people campaign, use Facebook groups to promote the general meeting and try to get more nominees out there? That would draw more attention to the parade in general and help fuel an excitement about the grand marshal.”

Amarshi says that in light of what has happened Pride is reviewing its nomination process.

“I have discussed the matter with our volunteers and they agree that it is now time for the staff to take over the work related to the nomination process and make the appropriate calls to each nominee during regular business hours when the volunteers are usually unable to do Pride work. We will be implementing this system next year.”

Klinck says he’s satisfied with Pride’s response to his concerns and wishes Enza “Supermodel” Anderson success as grand marshal in the Sat, Jun 29 parade.

“Things happen for a reason and if this incident brings more awareness to the behind-the-scenes disorganization, at least related to the nomination of grand marshal, and if this increased awareness leads to improvements, I’m a happy guy. And there is always next year.”