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Advisory Panel offers 133 recommendations to Pride Toronto

Advisory Panel offers 133 recommendations to Pride Toronto

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Smaller, queerer, less corporate festival, CAP urges
After months of meetings, surveys, debate and mudslinging, 150 people streamed into the 519 Church Street Community Centre to hear the Community Advisory Panel’s (CAP) report and recommendations. The report is 232 pages and contains 133 recommendations.

Francisco Alvarez, chair of the Pride Toronto (PT) board of directors, earned a standing ovation after telling the crowd that he accepts CAP's recommendations "wholesale," at least "in spirit." Alvarez also gave a heartfelt apology on behalf of the board to the whole community.

The sweeping report covers everything from finances to entertainment. A significant portion of the report is dedicated to repairing rifts between PT, the trans community and people of colour.

The first recommendation is that "Pride Toronto should be saved and its programming considerably downsized."

“In the short term, the biggest challenge is financial,” CAP chair Brent Hawkes told Xtra before the meeting. He emphasized the precarious position of the organization, which lost more than $400,000 in 2010.

CAP also suggests that PT farm out or hand over aspects of its operations it previously handled on its own. For example, PT should not run beer gardens but should work with groups like The 519 -- or local businesses -- to produce the weekend's outdoor drinking spaces.

Among the CAP recommendations is a list of criteria for determining which groups should be allowed into the parade. Queer and non-queer groups will both be allowed to march, but all participants must prominently display pro-gay or trans messages, if the recommendations are adopted.

About 10 of the 232 pages of the report deal with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA). The recommendations stop short of saying whether QuAIA ought to be allowed to march.

Instead, CAP recommends the creation of an adjudication process that would determine whether controversial groups can march. It would be triggered only in the event of a complaint and any decisions made would be final, if the recommendation is adopted.

"There's a lot of grey area here, and we know it," admits Hawkes, in reference to the dispute resolution passage.

CAP also recommends that PT devote the bulk of its entertainment programming to acts that are from Toronto and are members of the gay or trans community.

In the short term, PT needs to hire an interim executive director to replace outgoing ED Tracey Sandilands, the report says. PT will also need to replenish the board, which is down to just seven members. CAP recommends that the board’s size be increased and that the majority of the people on the board’s subcommittees be non-board members.

Read the recommendations here...


Community Advisory Panel Report - Executive Summary

Community Advisory Panel Report - Main

Community Advisory Panel Report - Appendices

UPDATE 18 Feb 9:15pm By Matt Mills - As pointed out below by a sharp-eyed reader, this story page originally included an account of the hours leading up to the Feb 17 community meeting at The 519. We inadvertently overwrote that text last night. Here’s the story….

Last week Xtra asked CAP members to release their recommendations sometime prior to the community meeting. It was clear the report was going to be quite lengthy, so it seemed that releasing it early would give people, including Xtra’s editorial crew, the chance to read it in advance and thereby arrive at the meeting informed and ready to ask questions.

CAP didn’t support that idea but did ultimately agree to host a two-hour pre-meeting “embargo” period in which reporters could review the report now posted above. CAP’s conditions for participation included, “Once admitted to the room, no one will be allowed to leave prior to 6:45 pm except in case of a medical emergency.” CAP also required that everyone sign-in and that “media surrender all electronic devices, including cell phones and laptops."

It was not ideal it was a regimented system with a seemingly inordinate level of security that implied various classes of gay people with various levels of access and privilege but it was better than nothing. In the minutes prior to the embargo period, scheduled to begin at 5pm, Xtra learned that there were in fact two rooms at The 519 in use for the task; one was assigned by CAP for media and one was assigned for “invited community leaders.”

Xtra Toronto managing editor Marcus McCann and Xtra Toronto reporter Andrea Houston attended the media room on the second floor. That meeting was invigilated by CAP chair Brent Hawkes and included various reporters from the mainstream press. I’m Xtra’s editorial director and I chose to attend the community leaders meeting on the third floor. I was not invited to that meeting but I felt it was important that Pink Triangle Press and Xtra be represented there. I was also curious about why there were two groups. The community leaders meeting was invigilated by CAP member Douglas Elliott. I was initially denied entry to the room but was eventually admitted.

There were about 20 people in the community leaders room. They included Egale executive director Helen Kennedy, Ward 27 city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, University of Toronto associate professor Renaldo Walcott, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid spokesperson Elle Flanders, Kulanu executive director Justine Apple, Carol Pasternak, legislative assistant to Toronto Centre MPP Glen Murray Kajananth Thirunavukkarasu, and several others.

Each person was issued a hard copy of the report posted above, Elliott made a brief introduction, and the balance of the time was spent largely in silent reading. There was no other formalized process or discussion.

Xtra will have more coverage and analysis of the CAP report in the coming days.
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Comments

Advisory Panel old boys club
The work of the (sic: new Pride Toronto) interim executive director should be supported and guided by a Management consisting of experienced current and past executive directors or respected community organizations such as the 519 Church Street Community Center or Black CAP.(En?). Why only Church Streets organizations? Michael Went is on the Board of Directors of Black Coalition for Aids Prevention (Black CAP) as Treasurer. That’s not say he is not qualified, but he should not be recommending his organization in a community report. Source:CAP Final Report Executive Summary Page 6 and ,7 of 21
To answer your question, Jake -- Part III
Then again, just because something is 'common practice' for government agencies (which CAP is not), that doesn't mean that the CAP *should have* done the same with its own report. Indeed, I am left wondering why the CAP felt so 'threatened' with the possibility of having the details of its report leaked to the public before the un/official 7:00 public meeting that it felt the need to issue this embargo in the first place...
To answer your question, Jake -- Part II
Of course, this does not preclude the CAP from issuing a news embargo since it is also 'common practice' to release a report to the public in advance of a public meeting and request that its details not be reported on until then -- a third alternative. This would have definitely provided a more respectful and equitable scenario where neither the Pride Toronto Board nor the media, nor select community leaders receive any informational advantage over any of the other group(s), and much less over the LGBTQ community the CAP was supposedly representing.
To answer your question, Jake -- Part I
My issue is not so much with the news embargo per se, but rather (1) with the number of secret meetings that were held by the CAP to give certain people an advanced preview of the report, and (2) the extreme measures that were taken by the CAP to prevent the media from reporting on the recommendations. Given that the CAP had always presented itself as a body that was committed to transparency of process and one that was supposedly in the service of Toronto's LGBTQ communities, the fairest course of action would have been to release the report to everyone at exactly the same time -- say, on February 10, when it was submitted the Pride Toronto Board -- while *still* holding the public meeting on the 17th as planned. This would have given *everyone* the same opportunity to read over the report and develop their own opinions, using the public meeting to allow individuals to ask questions of its contents and get the same set of clarifications.
Why so concerned about the news embargo?
Martin, I don't know why you are so concerned about CAP's news embargo. After all, it's a very common practice in Canada. For example, government budgets in Canada often have a news embargo which requires journalists to be locked up in a room and to surrender electronic devices in order to get an advanced look at the budget document before it is released to the public. See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/budget2006/blog.html News embargos actually help ensure fairness - by making sure that members of the media who get an advance look at an important document can't report on the document until it is publicly released. The alternative would be to simply not allow the media to read the document in advance. A news embargo is a limited accomodation that allows the media to be able to read a document in advance so that they can ask thoughtful questions at any ensuing press conference and so that they can provide immediate commentary to the public (e.g., TV broadcasts, online articles). Yes, CAP allowed representatives of certain interested community leaders and groups to also enter into a lock-up (e.g., the local city councillor and representatives of the local MPP, QuAIA, Kulanu and EGALE). But again, this was courtesy to the leaders of those groups so that they would be in a better position to comment after the report was publicly released. There is no conspiracy here.
Dear Matt Mills, Editor
Thank you for the update and the new insights into the third un/official leaders' meeting that also took place on the 17th. Though I must say: your update/story is a lot more apologetic for the CAP's extreme security measures than the original story that was published Thursday afternoon. In fact, it is an entirely different story altogether! May I suggest that you keep an archive of the stories you publish online so that they can be retrieved *as-is* if anything like this happens again? Your paper's credibility and the credibility of your staff will thank you for it.
Fascinating report
I'm just diving into it, but it is a great reminder for all LGBTQ organizations in how important it is to stay connected to those communities we purport to represent.
Kudo to the current Pride TO BOD for adopting the recommendations.
Reaction to CAP report
This Toronto Sun column sets out the reaction of Mayor Ford, Councillor Mammolitti and Martin Gladstone to the CAP report:
http://www.torontosun.com/comment/columnists/sueann_levy/2011/02/18/17333386.html
Mea Copa
The CAP report was just a mea cupa for a Board that should have been disbanded. It was the Board that set the policy.
flogging a dead horse
Why incorporate the date of Stonewall -- a US event overblown and twisted by conflicting history agendas. Why not celebrate a Canadian date -- like the date Trudeau legalized homosex. Or something from Toronto. Oh of course such dates have nothing to do with trans people and hetero queers whom the entire even now seems to be about. Oh well. Pride in Toronto is dead. Whatever comes next will be a trans and queered bore.

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