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Pride bypasses Parliament again


Pride bypasses Parliament again

Parade route past Centre Block too expensive, organizers say
The rising cost of policing and road closures means this year’s Capital Pride parade will once again not pass in front of the Parliament buildings.

Some community members say this is a missed opportunity to pack a political punch by demonstrating in front of Centre Block.

“It is really unfortunate that economics is being used to override the very integrity of why we gather to celebrate Pride, and that is to politically assert ourselves. Particularly at the very symbolic location at which decision-making is carried out in this country: the Parliament buildings,” says Nick Mulé, the chair of Queer Ontario.

The Capital Pride parade marched in front of Parliament until 2011.

“The right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to assemble should not be trumped by barriers, whether they be economic or the Harper government’s distaste for dissent. This silencing tactic needs to be challenged systemically and creatively,” Mulé says.

But Capital Pride chair Loresa Novy says the board of directors is happy with the current route. She says the parade’s route down Laurier Ave makes for an equally powerful experience.

“While it’s nice to pass Parliament Hill because it’s such a large space, it tends to get lost,” she says. “We found that going down Laurier, you can feel the energy from the people and it’s a very powerful experience.”

Past chair Doug Saunders says rising police costs meant Capital Pride could not afford to continue making the journey past Parliament.

“It cost too much money. It was going to cost about another eight to nine thousand dollars to close off both sides of the street in front of Parliament Hill,” he says. “You have to pay for policing; you have to pay for road closures . . . It was just too expensive.”

In 2010, the last year the parade did venture by Parliament, police implemented a rolling closure of Wellington St. One side remained open to traffic while the opposing side, from west to east, was closed. As the parade made its way down the main drag, one section of the street was closed at a time, with the police “rolling over” each other to shut down the next section.

However, in a 2011 interview with Xtra, Saunders said someone was almost hit on Wellington St during the 2010 parade when a rolling closure was in use.

The Capital Pride parade kicks off at the Garden of Provinces Sunday, Aug 26 at 1pm. See the Ultimate Pride Guide for more details.
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Id not Wellington, why not the Village?
If the parade can't make a statement by going down Wellington past Parliament, then why the heck can't it go further south along Bank and hit the Village? It's just plan odd to miss that opportunity. If they like the energy that comes from being closer to the crowd, then Bank is ideal, and it has significance to our community. Laurier totally does not. Yes, this would mean the route would be longer to wind it's way back to City Hall, but it's really a very weak route that doesn't hit any of the important queer or historical landmarks of the city except the Supreme Court.
Political by nature, Celebratory by choice
There can be great symbolic value in coming out together and converging on or around Parliament Hill. However, as a symbolic gesture it somehow misses its own intention when Parliament is not sitting, and the Prime Minister of Canada who most needs to hear, see and feel the energy of that parade will be nowhere near it.
And the reality of funding requirements yearly raises its needy voice, making its own statement to a community that cannot afford to dimiss that aspect, especially not after carrying a debt which threatened the very existence of continued Pride parades and events.
However, it is also important to recognize that being 'political' is not avoidable as a member of a minority community or as a queer human being. One doesn't have to carry any agenda; it's automatically bestowed upon you from the powers that be (and the status quo, the majority of society) -- who will automatically view you as 'other' when you kiss that boyfriend in the street; whether you kiss for purely romantic reasons or not.
Please, if you don't think our celebration is still political, try having that discussion with Moscow. You won't be parading there and kissing anyone freely during a gay pride parade for the next hundred years, apparently.
The personal -- the queer personal in this case -- is always by its very nature political in that context, whether you want it to be or not.
So, the T is disposable(?)
Its true, as Norm has observed, that Pride is "becoming more about celebrating our [his] community and family" than about making a political statement. This seems to be the case for gay and lesbian people, for whom federal human rights were enacted a generation ago, and federal hate crimes law were enacted a decade ago. Pride seems to include trans people, and our organizations, as witnessed by Pride's awards recently presented, described in another Xtra article. But I wonder, why the current status of the federal trans rights and hate crimes bill, having recently passed, surprisingly, 2nd Reading in Parliament, seems to be irrelevant to this discussion.
The quintessential Queer activist
I've never heard (or read) about Queer Ontario's Nick Mulé ever making a positive comment about the work done by others. He always seems to be hateful, negative and complaining in his remarks to the media or at public events. He's the quintessential, left-wing Queer activist.
Knowing local history
First, while Prof. Mulé's statements acknowledge that something political may be lost by bypassing Parliament, he doesn't acknowledge the importance (for similar reasons) of City Hall as a venue.

Second, why is a Toronto expert (again, Prof. Mulé) being used for this piece? Where are the statements from local activists and academic experts on the GLBTTQ community? QO may be a provincial organization, but that shouldn't actually have much to do with the Parliament of Canada as a landmark.

Finally, for those who don't know why it got too expensive, here's last year's XTRA! story on the subject. In short, it's not about "suppressing dissent", it's because the Capital Pride parade is a victim of its own success: http://www.xtra.ca/public/Ottawa/Pride_parade_to_bypass_Parliament-10589.aspx. That context was sorely lacking from this article, but that's the gist of it.
Really? But I like the new parade route.
I've marched in the parade for the past 3 years, and I have to say that I enjoyed the new route much more than the old one. I like Parliament. It's very pretty. But when I marched down Laurier, it felt so much more intimate. I could see all the spectators and it felt more like a community parade. And I have to agree with Winnipeg on this one. Mulé's words are out of touch with reality. Capital Pride, along with all the other Pride festivals in Canada, operates on an economic model. Perhaps Mulé isn't aware of the huge financial problems Capital Pride has had in the past, but the parade is only one aspect of Capital Pride. To be honest, I'd rather use the $8,000 savings from the parade route for the Pride parties, Community fairs, Family picnics and other Capital Pride programming. I agree that Pride is a time to assert ourselves as a community, but must it always be viewed as political? When I kiss my boyfriend in public, I'm not making a statement. I'm kissing the man I love. And isn't that what Pride's really about? Normalizing our lives so that our actions aren't always construed as hiding some kind of political agenda? If Mulé wants to make a political statement and march in front of Parliament, perhaps he can organize a separate protest march. The Pride parade may have started out as a protest march, but it has, thankfully, evolved beyond that. In my opinion, the Pride parade is no longer just about fighting for rights and asserting those rights, it's becoming more about celebrating our community and family. That's why I like the new parade route. We can interact with our community and family on Laurier moreso than we ever could on Wellington.
Did I miss something, Winnipeg?
Where in the article does it say they're not closing streets for this year's route?
I inferred that closing for a Wellington march costs more than closing for a Laurier route: it may be some paranoid MFs thinking the Hill is at greater risk so needs more protection...g
I don't want to sound like a troll
I really really don't. I realize the article is about something as boring as a parade route. lol........But what I am finding very problematic is the words used by Mr. Mule. It shows a much more pervasive problem with activism today. It is that culture of entitlement. I don't think he realizes just how entitled he actually is being. Fees are fees they are not some right wing conspiracy by the PM to muzzel you. Parliament is not even sitting for God's sake! What does he expect? That the city of Ottawa fund the pride parade so there are no economic ''barriers''. No wonder activism is being taken less and less seriously with each passing year.
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