News
3 min

Pride Toronto still ‘vulnerable’

Mammoliti vows to defund festival, following city manager's report

Giorgio Mammoliti Credit: Marcus McCann
A tense day at city hall ended without any movement on the Pride Toronto (PT) file, after the city manager released a report saying the festival is in compliance with the city’s anti-discrimination policy.
 
However, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti pledged to lead the charge to defund the parade beginning next week.
 
Mammoliti will broach the subject April 20 at an executive committee meeting. Because the executive is composed of sympathetic councillors, Mammoliti’s motion is expected to pass handily. The motion would then head to council in May or June.
 
In one scenario, the final vote on PT funding would be held on May 17, the International Day Against Homophobia. In another scenario, the vote would be delayed until mid-June, just days before the start of the Pride festival.
 
The news follows the release of a report by city manager Joseph Pannachetti, who wrote that “City staff have determined that the phrase ‘Israeli apartheid’ in and of itself does not violate the City’s Anti-discrimination policy.” It settles the question of whether or not PT broke the city’s rules when it allowed Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) to march in last year’s Pride parade.
 
PT submitted a funding application as a major cultural organization under the Community Partnership and Investment Program (CPIP) April 1, according to board co-chair Francisco Alvarez. The application is currently being reviewed by city staff.

“It means we do not violate the policy and we do qualify for funding,” Alvarez says. “It certainly removes one possible barrier to the funding.”

“We should get the funding on sheer precedent. We’ve applied many times and always gotten a grant through that process. The only thing that could impede our funding will be a political decision.”

 
In an interview with Xtra, Councillor Adam Vaughan said that the city manager’s report will be ignored by those councillors who are gunning for the festival.
 
“There are people on this council who know how they are going to vote, with or without a report. And I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of flexibility there,” he says. “What we need to do as a city is create the space for a conversation, and until we do that, Pride is going to be in a very vulnerable position.”
 
Pride Toronto supporters showed up throughout the day, including Alvarez, Community Advisory Panel member Michael Went, Proud of Toronto organizer Michael Bach and Glen Brown, PT’s new interim executive director.
 
Speaking from the gallery at city hall, activist Anna Willats says that it’s important for gay, lesbian and trans people to make their voices heard at city hall by emailing Mammoliti and the rest of council. She also suggests that folks — gay and straight — sign up to make deputations to the executive committee next week.
 
“I think it’s important that we let city council know that we understand that there are many different points of view in the parade. To punish Pride for a political message that some people don’t like is ridiculous,” she says.
 
Mammoliti’s afternoon press conference followed a speech in the morning by Kristyn Wong-Tam on the subject of Pride Toronto.
 
Wong-Tam emphasized the importance of Pride as a cultural event, tourist draw and economic vehicle for the city. In the full version of her speech, she characterizes moves to defund PT as “collective punishment.”
 
She urged her colleagues to consider the city manager’s report before making any decision about PT and spoke candidly about the risk both to the organization and its hosting duties for World Pride 2014.
 
“In three short years, the eyes of the world will be focused on Toronto,” she said.
 
She intended to add, “Defunding Pride Toronto… will mean the inevitable destruction of Pride Toronto in the months ahead and they will automatically lose the privilege to host World Pride in 2014.” Instead, she was cut off by fellow Councillor James Pasternak, who objected to Wong-Tam’s speech on technical grounds. The speaker ruled Wong-Tam out of order, and she was not allowed to finish her prepared remarks.