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Pride doesn't qualify for city money, says councillor

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Pride doesn't qualify for city money, says councillor

Councillor James Pasternak.Councillor Shelley Carroll questions city manager Joe Pennachetti during an executive committee meeting last year.Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) marching in Toronto Pride 2010.Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. IMAGE 1 OF 4
Funding to be debated at council June 6
Even though Toronto’s economic development committee approved funding for Pride Toronto (PT), one city councillor still says he wants to hold back funding to ensure the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) does not march in the parade.

Councillor James Pasternak says he plans to submit a motion at the next council meeting, on June 6, in an effort to withhold Pride’s $123,807 cultural grant until after the festival. About $300,000 worth of in-kind city services, including policing and garbage clean-up, would not be affected, Pasternak says.

After the May 22 meeting of the economic development committee, which endorsed more than $6 million in grants to Toronto’s 10 major arts organizations, Councillor Josh Colle, who did not reply to Xtra’s request for comment, told reporters he will support Pasternak’s motion, saying the city should not fund Pride if QuAIA is permitted to march.

The comments have put PT on alert with renewed fears that funding is once again at risk.


PT executive director Kevin Beaulieu says board members are meeting with all city councillors to impress upon them the importance of the Pride festival. “Pride has been ruled by the city manager to be in compliance with the city’s anti-discrimination policy,” he says.

Pasternak, who met with PT co-chair Luka Amona and board member Evan Dean to discuss QuAIA on May 24, says both sides “agreed to disagree.”

“The bottom line is QuAIA makes the parade ineligible for funding,” Pasternak says. “We don’t fund demonstrations and we don’t fund groups that don’t comply with our anti-discrimination policy. The QuAIA messaging is extremely offensive. It is preposterous in historical fact.

“I’m surprised Pride would get itself involved in this mess,” he adds. “The last thing you want to do is bring Middle East politics into a cultural celebration.”

In 2010, council passed a motion requiring that groups participating in any Toronto festival comply with the city’s anti-discrimination policy. Last year, city manager Joe Pennachetti released a report that stated QuAIA’s participation in the parade did not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

But Pasternak says the report is not valid because he tacked on an amendment before the vote. As a result, he says, council voted to reject the report and sent it back to be “tightened up to say ‘Israeli apartheid’ is discriminatory and offensive terminology.”


“The city manager brought back a report that had an opinion, but by a 36-to-1 vote, council rejected that opinion, and here we are,” he says. “My amendment clearly makes a statement that we do not agree . . . Council has spoken. We have declared the city manager’s opinion null and void.”

Councillor Shelley Carroll says Pasternak is incorrect. She says the city manager was clear and his opinion “laid this issue to rest.”

“Council has already voted to adopt the report,” she says. “Even if procedurally this were possible, I would not be supporting that motion. The city manager went through every bit of process that we asked him to undertake for us. It was not a decision he took lightly. He received a lot of professional opinion. It’s adopted.”

Carroll also questions Pasternak’s motives, saying he is just grandstanding for his constituents.

“I have to ask myself, Is he starting a little fire out there in his community so he can appear to be the person that put it out? Is that wise?” she asks.

“I’m not making light of the people that feel hurt by the terminology [Israeli apartheid], but none of these people that I’m told are concerned showed up to the economic development committee to say they don’t support the city manager’s opinion and they’re outraged. No one came.”

Councillor Gord Perks says Pride funding is likely safe.

“Councillor Pasternak is bound and determined to continue fighting on this, so maybe he’s looking for a way,” he says. “This went through uncontested at executive committee. Councillor Pasternak can try to make some kind of an amendment, but I can’t believe anything that puts Pride’s funding in jeopardy would happen. I think this is done.”


Margaret Dougherty, a City of Toronto senior communications officer, also confirmed that the 2011 city manager's report was adopted with an amendment to take another look and report back. The updated report is due back to executive committee on June 12. She did not know if any changes have been made.

Pasternak wants council to go one step further and effectively ban the phrase "Israeli apartheid" for all beneficiaries of city funds.

QuAIA has been at the centre of controversy for more than two years. The Community Advisory Panel (CAP), which was created as a result of the dispute, recommended that Pride set up an arms-length arbitration panel to resolve any complaints. The decision by the dispute resolution committee will be final.


Regardless, Pasternak says, funding should be deferred until after the festival. “I’m urging [Pride], don’t even let it get to the dispute panel. I suggest they reject QuAIA outright.”

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says Pasternak is wrong in his interpretation. The report stands, she says, and suggests he explore “proper legal channels,” such as the Ontario Human Rights Commission, if he wants to challenge its findings and the phrase ‘Israeli apartheid.’

“It’s only Pride Toronto. Out of all the organizations that sign the anti-discrimination policy to receive city funding, it’s only Pride Toronto that is always under attack,” she says. “It’s grossly unfair to the LGBT community to have to work through extra hurdles and barriers, and I’m starting to view it as somewhat discriminatory.”

QuAIA spokesperson Tony Souza says the group has not yet submitted an application to march. The deadline to apply is June 1, at which point PT will make the full list available to the public. 

Vindicated by the city manager's report, QuAIA decided to bow out of the parade in 2011.

“We intend to put our application in to march,” he says. “We’ve gone through this whole hullabaloo for two years, and it’s the same story. [Opposing councillors] don’t care what the city manager says.

“We feel we have a right to march like anyone else has. Pride, after all, is a political event, and it has always been a political event.”
 
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Comments

Ban the Haters
Says you, Rich. At issue is whether the City will fund Pride if this group participates. Their inclusion jeopardizes funding because 1) the City doesn't fund protests 2) the City doesn't fund events that discriminate against a country and religion (Israel is a religious state).

Personally, I find it suspicious that this group only stirs around Pride and never protests the Israeli consulate, where, y'know, they'd get the attention they're seeking and let the gays have their day in the sun.
re: Logic of the QuAIA
Ben Johnson is this opposite day and no one told me? Censorship or silencing others' opinions is not freedom of speech so I don't see how not banning a group of LGBT Torontonians because of their political beliefs is an attack on anyone's freedom of speech, its the exact opposite in reality. There's a pro-Israel right or wrong group that marches every year and participates in Pride, I don't recall QuAIA, or anyone else for that matter trying to silence them or ban them from Pride. They claim to be a Jewish LGBT group but considering Jewish LGBT people have been kicked out of that group for being critical of Israel its safe to say they're mainly a pro-Israel right or wrong group as opposed to a Jewish LGBT group. No one has ever tried to ban them nor have they ever had any problems at Pride. Silencing, censoring and/or banning QuAIA is not free speech, its the exact opposite of free speech. Who is preventing you or anyone else from questioning or criticizing QuAIA? They're questioned and criticized in the comments section of every column or story even remotely related to them or the ME and protesting isn't censorship at all. Besides which Toronto's LGBT communities have never been united, at least not for very long. There has always been queer groups protesting against different issues that are not obviously LGBT related, though many would argue that any anti-oppression struggle is a L:GBT issue, there's groups protesting the treatment of LGBT people in Muslim countries and around the world as well as environmentalists, vegans and animal rights activists, politicians and political parties that have done squat for LGBT people, condos, stores and businesses as well in the parade, all of whom have nothing to do with LGBT issues at all. Pride is a celebration of Toronto's LGBT communities in all their diversity, like it or not QuAIA is a part of Toronto's LGBT communities and has every right to participate in Pride.
Go Pasternak!
It's clear that the city doesn't support protests, which is what QAIA is doing during the celebration. Pasternak is right to question their motives protesting a gay-supporting country. This situation is ridiculous and mid-east hate has no place at Toronto's gay pride parade.
Not realy Joe
I remember reading a comment in another story on them that Xtra records IP address for them and wait to release them. If this is the case then how would they have access to this. If they do then Xtra has be helping them stopping any oppostion
Exclude from Pride issues unrelated to LGBT
Yes we can and should question the QuAIA. But we should also question Kulanu and Pasternak. Questioning is civil discourse. We should also question and condemn countries which have Homophobic practices --with or without execution/incarceration enshrined in their legal code: Russian Homophobia, Islamic Homophobia, African Homophobia, etc. We should protest against Homophobic practices in the Pride Parade. We all have the freedom to express our beliefs. But we should exclude issues unrelated to LGBT as the parade is already too long and too straggly.
Logic of the QuAIA
The only group of people that can have freedom of Speech is the QuAIA and the rest are not allowed to have it. What I see here is just typical leftist tactics at play here. Toronto use to have a united community until this cancer decided to think a Middle Eastern problem has anything to do with Gay rights when it does not. Of course it is freedom of Speech but only if the QuAIA approves of it if not they will use bullying tactics to get their way as seen here.

Also why can we not question them? But I do now Xtra does have a big role in the one sided freedom of Speech
Whatever
God bless you Pasternak. You give Toronto Pride Hell..that'll teach em who's straight, Gay and whatever in between, under the banner of prejudice or something like that. The only good thing that came out of this article for me, is, I like Wong-Tam a whole lot better. You go girl! Everyone, relax yourself. Pride will get funding, as always. Homophobia will always be alive and well at city hall. Let them eat cake.. Whatever!
and
The QuAIA still pinkwashes Canadian Apartheid since South Africa copied our Indian Act to create theirs. I wonder when did Israel did that?
@Sara
Sara, I was surprised to read your comment that if "you want to see unattractive take a look of the members of Kulanu". I was surprised that you would make that comment since so many of the people have marched in the past with QuAIA at Pride are unattractive, overweight lesbians.
Mosters Indeed
Hanna wrote
Gaylee is calling Quaia "opinions" and group of Queer palestianian supporters. "Monsters". Thanks to gaylees post Jamie, you can rest your case.

Hanna, you don't make sense. Why do you think I'm associated with this "Kulanu"? I'm not. That group is obviously not the only one that knows Quaia are monsters. Most of us gays know that. And you shouldnt call them "palestianian supporters" becuase if they were then they would probably want peace and 2 state solution. They dont! Check their web site. They are about getting the Jews! That's all. Dont be fooled. That's why their name is about Israel not about Palestinians. You should do some research.

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