Just one week after the chair of Capital Pride resigned, on Jan 25, two more directors have left the organization’s board.
Chris Ellis and Steve Crosby resigned last week, Capital Pride’s director of communications, Justin Broekema, confirmed in a Feb 2 email to Xtra.
Broekema says Ellis and Crosby resigned for personal reasons, but “both of them will stay involved in Capital Pride and continue to work with their respective committees and coordinators.”
“I left the board to have more time for my career, family and other interests,” Ellis tells Xtra.
“I haven’t left Capital Pride,” he adds. “I remain on the Fierté Canada Pride conference organizing committee and have offered to help Capital Pride with projects and events in the future. The board and organization have my support.”
With Ellis and Crosby gone, new chair Michael Lafontaine is the only director from 2012 still sitting on Capital Pride’s 2013 board.
Ellis and Crosby’s resignations come on the heels of board chair Sebastien Provost’s resignation in a letter to the board dated Jan 25.
In his letter of resignation, Provost cited perceived conflicts of interest as the catalyst for his decision to step down.
“It became very apparent to me today that I am not the best suited person to lead this organization and I am simply not cut out for the politics that goes with this job,” he writes in his letter of resignation.
Lafontaine says Provost used the email of his production company, House of Sas, to correspond with Fierté Canada Pride (FCP) participants and then store their financial information for the upcoming conference in March.
Provost also corresponded with Capital Pride sponsors through his House of Sas email and suggested his company play a part in repaying a debt to Fleet Pro Lighting and Sound, Lafontaine says.
However, Lafontaine and FCP president Sandi Stetson say Provost was just trying to be helpful and support Pride. Neither believes his actions required his resignation.
Lafontaine calls Provost’s correspondence with FCP participants “an unintentional error.”
“It was something that when we became aware of it, we resolved it,” Lafontaine says.
Though Provost agreed on Jan 30 to be interviewed, he has yet to sit down with Xtra to share his perspective.
The latest resignations follow last fall’s public battle between former Capital Pride chair Loresa Novy and former board member Guy Hughes. At Capital Pride’s Oct 24 annual general meeting, Novy apologized, twice, for calling Hughes “mentally unstable.”
Outgoing corporate sponsorship coordinator Róisín Holahan said Novy’s comments potentially damaged Capital Pride’s reputation. “The chair was lacking in direction and took little responsibility or accountability as a figurehead of Capital Pride,” she said.
Novy declined to run again for the board, and nobody nominated Hughes.
Financial reports indicate that Capital Pride owes $45,280.90, partly to the City of Ottawa, partly to Fleet Pro Lighting and Sound for services provided in 2004 and 2005, and partly to a private loan.
Capital Pride has struggled to pay down its debt since it hosted a popular, but expensive, street party in 2004 on Bank Street. However, in the nine years since, the organization has reduced its debt by more than half.
At a Jan 16 special general meeting (SGM), the board didn’t reach quorum so couldn’t vote on any motions, including its proposed new bylaws. But Provost and board member Elliott Youden presented a plan to make Capital Pride debt-free by 2016.
“This year, because it was brought forward by our membership at the AGM, we’re committed to examining the debt and looking at what is the best feasible way of dealing with that this year,” Youden said. “To pay it all off in one lump sum would cripple us and leave us with no capital for this year.”
After the SGM, Provost said that it was unfortunate the organization did not reach quorum but that Capital Pride was on its way to making serious organizational changes.
“We did a lot of work to get to achieve the results that the membership had asked for,” he said. “We’re going to be reaching out to our membership base a lot more.”