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Pride Toronto defunding motion at city hall tomorrow

Toronto city councillor Georgio Mammoliti’s motion to deny city funding to Pride Toronto (PT) if it doesn’t keep the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA ) out of this year’s Pride parade returns to executive committee at city hall on Monday.

Read all about the PT censorship story from the very beginning.

But, of course, the PT board of directors voted on May 21 to censor the term “Israeli apartheid” from the parade, effectively banning QuAIA from marching.

“Staff are satisfied that the decisions of Pride Toronto meet the City’s requirements,” reads a May 27 memo from city economic development and culture manager Michael Williams to Toronto mayor, David Miller.

That means the motion to defund PT is likely to be withdrawn, PT is likely to get its money (it may have already) and the funding matter – at least – will be closed. 

Read the city documents on Monday's committee meeting here.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean all is said and done as far as the city is concerned. Much of the Pride funding question hinges on the city's interpretation of its own anti-discrimination policy: if QuAIA’s presence in the parade violates the policy, PT is ineligible for city funding; if QuAIA’s presence doesn’t violate the policy, PT is eligible for city funding. But the city’s official position all along has been only that QuAIA’s presence "may" – not "does" or "does not" – violate the policy.

Why the fence sitting? Well for one thing, there’s nothing in Canadian jurisprudence to suggest that criticism of Israeli foreign policy constitutes discrimination, harassment or hate activity. If the city were to take a position one way or the other, it would likely expose itself to all kinds of messy legal and public relations wrangling (just as PT has).

Ward 27 Toronto city councillor Kyle Rae at The 519 renovation open house in May.

There is, nevertheless, mounting evidence that city officials – including Ward 27 city councillor Kyle Rae – pressured PT to censor QuAIA and that PT eagerly capitulated to that pressure. And that's the message that needs to be sent to the city. To that end, many of those who returned their PT honours on June 7 (plus a few other gay and lesbian activists, including me) have signed up to depute the motion before executive committee tomorrow. It's not clear when exactly this will happen, likely after the noon hour sometime, but if you're around city hall tomorrow, stop in to check it out. And check back here regularly for updates.

Check out the Coalition for Free Speech facebook posting on this. 

Also, if you haven't already, check out the Pride Community Contract.

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