...City officials appeared to be running for cover Wednesday.
Rita Davies, executive director of culture who issued the Pride grant, referred me to Diversity Manager Ceta Ramkhalawansingh for comment.
Late Wednesday afternoon Ramkhalawansingh, who indicated one month ago that the group might be in violation of the city’s anti-discrimination policies, left me a bizarre voice-mail message saying Pride Toronto is now in compliance.Time for Bernie to shake the mothballs off his queer T for the straight Jew, I guess.
But gay activist Martin Gladstone — who produced a DVD documenting the QuAIA contingent last year — said the facts about QuAIA’s hateful messaging haven’t changed.
“The only thing that has changed is that Pride has taken the city’s cheque and rebuked the city’s policy,” he said, adding that Pride’s actions have “emboldened” the group and will create a “free-for-all hatefest” at the parade this year.
Bernie Farber, chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said the group is “very disappointed” with Pride’s about-face. “They got bullied and intimidated into flip-flopping,” he said.
“It shows a lack of integrity, a lack of honour and a lack of justice,” he added, saying this will not stop any Jewish groups from marching in the parade this year.
[Mayoral candidate Giorgio] Mammoliti said he’ll put another motion to the July council asking that the grant money, plus the nearly $200,000 Pride Toronto will get in policing and clean-up resources, be paid back retroactively and all future city funding be discontinued.
“This is something Pride has to learn a lesson on,” he said. “Taxpayers cannot be expected to dole out money to spread hatred.”
[Mayoral candidate] Rocco Rossi said he was “appalled” and “disappointed” with Pride’s reversal, noting nothing has changed to support that decision. He said the next mayor and council should definitely discuss whether to fund Pride next year.
Openly gay mayoralty candidate George Smitherman would only say he finds it “entirely objectionable” the parade is being “hijacked and threatened by a sideshow” that has nothing to do with Pride.
“Unfortunately there are still those in our city who would look for any reason to deny funding and support for Pride and this only plays into their hands,” he said, no doubt referring to [conservative candidate Rob] Ford.