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New faces elected to board at unusually calm Pride AGM

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New faces elected to board at unusually calm Pride AGM

Pride's new executive director, Kevin Beaulieu, was announced at the AGM.Pride board chair Francisco Alvarez thinks that the controversy that dogged the organization for the last several years is behind it.Miss Conception vamped as the audience waited for voting results. IMAGE 1 OF 3
No one harmed at Pride's annual meeting
In a marked departure from recent years, the annual general meeting of Pride Toronto was a largely collegial and even fun affair that had no lawyers present in an official capacity but did feature a drag performance by Miss Conception.
 
It was mostly a good-news meeting, with the board announcing its selection of Kevin Beaulieu as permanent executive director, a story Xtra had broken earlier in the day. Beaulieu replaces Glen Brown, who stepped in on an interim basis to replace Tracey Sandilands, who resigned in January.

Mark Smith, Sean Hillier, Susan Gapka, Paola Solorzano and returning board members Chad Simon and Luka Amona were also elected to the board. 
 
In another bit of good news, the board tabled its unaudited financial statements for 2011, showing that the organization ended the year with a $110,000 surplus, completely eliminating the accumulated $109,000 debt left over from 2010’s shortfall. Pride had originally planned to pay down the debt over three years.
 
Audited statements could not be prepared in time for the meeting, to the frustration of several in attendance. The board agreed that they were unhappy with the auditing firm Adams & Miles LLP and said that they would be seeking new auditors for the coming year.
 
A motion from the floor that carried unanimously compels the board to release a request for proposals for new auditors who can turn around audited statements before the next annual general meeting.
 
Another recurring concern from the floor was whether the organization was worried that it would face significant cuts in government grants in the coming year. The board says it is working to reverse the city’s decision to withhold funding until after the parade is complete, in order to allow it to qualify for a $100,000 Heritage Canada grant that requires municipal participation. Pride lost the grant this year because of the delay in municipal funding.
 
However, the board expects to escape the municipal funding axe, as the city has only recommended eliminating grants to organizations that receive less than five percent of their revenue from city grants. Pride currently receives about 10 percent of its revenue from city grants.
 
In general, the board announced that the festival will be shrinking to a more manageable size in 2012. Pride is not planning to host a concert in Queen’s Park during the 2012 festival, but it may return to the park as the festival expands in the future and for WorldPride in 2014.
 
The board also announced it would begin seeking a new, fully accessible and cheaper office space immediately. They will begin advertising for someone to take over the five-year lease on their current space on Dundonald St.
 
If there was any tension during the meeting, it arrived when it was time to vote for new directors on Pride Toronto’s board. A representative from Fair Vote Canada attempted to explain the board’s single transferable vote system (STV), but after speaking for more than 10 minutes, many in the room complained loudly that they didn’t understand how the STV system works.
 
In STV, voters rank their choices and then a complicated mathematical formula is used to figure out who got the most preferential votes.
 
Ten candidates were nominated to fill the six vacant seats, including two incumbents. Nine gave speeches; Susan Gapka was in Moncton for a mental health conference.
 
All of the candidates who were present were asked by members of the audience where they would stand if Queers Against Israeli Apartheid were to ask to march in the parade next year, and all answered that they would support free speech.
 
After waiting for nearly an hour for the voting results to be tabulated, the board announced that the system tabulating the results had broken down and that they’d have to start again. It was decided that the meeting would be adjourned and the results would be announced at O’Gradys later that night.
 
An hour later, it was announced that Mark Smith, Sean Hillier, Susan Gapka, Paola Solorzano and returning board members Chad Simon and Luka Amona were elected to the board. (Read more about the candidates here.)
 
The board will pick a new chair from its members at its next regular meeting.
 
At the top of the meeting, board chair Francisco Alvarez suggested that the years of controversy when Tracey Sandilands was executive director have made the organization stronger.
 
“With all the controversies, more people became reinvolved with Pride,” he said.
 
 
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Comments

Hezbollah, Onward Ho!
I look forward to the first meeting this fall. What will we be doing - building cluster bombs to launch from Lebanon? Can't wait! As a "real activist" (Sav./Savannah's term) I can't wait to score against the Jewish state. Go Pride go, smash Zion!
QuAIA only 1 out of hundreds
QuAIA is only one queer activist group out of hundreds that participate in Pride. If some people choose to make QuAIA the only group of queer activists they pay any attention to, that's their own fault and not QuAIA's. Pride is much much more than just QuAIA, I really question the motives of those for whom QuAIA is the only thing about Pride that matters while ignoring the many thousands of others in the parade, including all those fighting to end bullying of LGBTQ students, GSAs, and getting gender identity/expression added to our human rights code and related laws among other issues. QuAIA only became a big issue and was also so massively successful in their messaging mainly thanks to those trying to censor them and everyone else at Pride. If those folks who were opposed, sometimes violently opposed, to allowing criticism of Israel would have instead respected QuAIA's right to free speech and to participate in their community's biggest event of the year then QuAIA's message would never have reached so many people around the world, far more than they could've ever reached on their own, and most still wouldn't know much, or anything, about QuAIA. If you're opposed to QuAIA's message the best thing you can do is to ignore them and let them go about participating in Pride the same as every other queer activist group. That way at least you won't be helping to spread their message far and wide like you did the last time they marched in Pride. Besides which think about the Israel you want to see, if you're a supporter of Canadian values such as freedom, diversity, tolerance and appreciate our Charter of Rights you most likely want to see the same future for Israel and Palestine that QuAIA does.
Congratulations!
Congratulations to all who were elected to the Pride board. It looks like it'll be a much more community focused board this time around which is what Pride should be all about in my opinion. A particular congratulations to Susan Gapka, just about the hardest working, tireless and inspiring person I have ever met. I also thought James Dubro would have made an excellent Pride board member due to his experience with queer liberation over the years, but maybe next time. I'm also glad to see the election of Mark Smith who's experience in planning will, I'm sure, be a very valuable asset to Pride. The others I'm not as familiar with but congratulations to all the new Pride board members!
@Jason, Re: benefit to the community as a whole
Jason, the discussion around QuAIA is exactly what enabled community leaders (i.e. the real activists) to call Pride out on how much it had sold out to corporate sponsors and how little activism it was actually involved in previously. It's no coincidence that this was the first year a trans woman (Susan Gapka) was elected to the Pride board, for example. This was also one of the first AGM's where trans issues were actually really discussed! (only a start, but you have to start somewhere). That's no coincidence... the politics around QuAIA is exactly what helped to put an end to the cronyism Pride of Tracey Sandilands and Mark Singh, and replace that with competence and a real connection to the community. I assure you, no trans person would have ever been elected without QuAIA's work around Pride and trans march would not have been as massive as it was last year. On top of it, many of the queer activists who are working on the issues you mentioned (GSA's for example) are by-and-large QuAIA supporters anyways.
Another win for QuAIA and Palestinian Pride
The article states that, when asked, all the new members of the Pride board of directors indicated that they would support QuAIA marching in the Pride parade. It's another win for QuAIA and Palestinian Pride. After all, Pride is now principally about Palestine and the centuries-old tensions and hatreds between Muslims and Jews. It's ironic that Muslim Palestinians argue that Jews wrongfully supplanted Muslims in Palestine when, for yet another year, Palestinian rights will supplant LBGT rights at Pride Toronto. For yet another year, QuAIA will generate a media and civic controversy that will divert community, media and public attention from the original LGBT rights agenda of Pride and the key issues now facing the LGBT community (e.g., bullying of LGBT students in schools, GSAs, legislation to protect trans people, etc.).
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