The controversial men’s rights group Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) plans on marching in the 2015 Toronto Pride parade, barring any major complaints.
Pride Toronto executive director Mathieu Chantelois confirmed to Daily Xtra that the group is included on the list of over 250 groups marching this year. “So far they are on the list,” Chantelois says.
All groups that applied to march in the parade were approved this year. “Everybody is approved until we get a complaint against them,” Chantelois says. Any member of the public who objects to the participation of any of the groups can make a confidential complaint through Pride Toronto’s dispute resolution process.
“I’m not too familiar with the work that [CAFE does], but obviously if there is some concern by anybody in the community we will take them extremely seriously.”
In 2014, CAFE’s permit to march in the WorldPride parade was revoked by Pride Toronto. Pride staff sent a letter to the group explaining that their work may “contravene the spirit of the mission, vision, and values of Pride Toronto and WorldPride.”
CAFE’s executive director Justin Trottier says that Pride is an important event for the organization. “Marching in Pride has always been a priority.”
He insists that the group is a human rights organization. “We’re interested in the health and welfare of men and boys,” Trottier says. “There is nothing in that that remotely contravenes Pride.”
CAFE is widely considered to be a men’s rights organization by many members of the community and media — it’s brought at least one well-known men’s rights speaker to Toronto. Most recently, it courted controversy after purchasing a billboard on Davenport Road claiming that half of domestic violence victims are men, citing information from a 2009 Statistics Canada report.
However, in a response in the Globe and Mail, writer Leah McClaren points out that “according to the same study, women were three times as likely to be victims of serious violence.”
The group was subject to further criticism when, despite having its permit revoked, members walked in the WorldPride parade by joining the group from the Sherbourne Health Centre. Staff from the Sherbourne Health Centre later told Daily Xtra that CAFE members had not been clear about why their permit was revoked, and that they “unequivocally” did not endorse or support CAFE.
Trottier says that there will no issues this year as long as Pride Toronto honours its commitment to use the dispute resolution process — Trottier alleges that the organization did not do so in 2014 when their permit was revoked. “Pride robbed us of the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about why we wanted to walk, what we would bring to the parade and answer any concerns that they might have.”
“If there are specific concerns people have we will happy to respond to them,” Trottier adds.