So, Giorgio Mammoliti wants to defund Pride…

EDITOR: This past weekend’s Pride may have been the most politicized in twenty years due to events of the past few weeks. Today Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is calling for an end to the City of Toronto’s partial funding of the Pride event. The issue surrounds the Queers Against Israeli Apartheid group whose presence caused much controversy last year, and though not officially part of this year’s march, Councillor Mammoliti has decided they were and is using it to further his case and was at Pride on Saturday with a video camera.  Joshua Hind, who regularly comments on this blog, wrote a piece on his own blog that we are cross-posting here about what he feels is the correct way to respond to Mammoliti, and by extension, the entire Respect for Taxpayers soundbite machine, to ensure events like Pride, and what they mean to the city, endure. What do you think? Picture by morecoffeeplease.

Just over a year ago, I wrote a piece called “Why Pride” in which I argued 2 points related to the 2010 Pride celebrations in Toronto. In brief, they were:

  1. Pride should distance itself from aggressive political messages that are not its own, specifically the messages related to Israeli/Palestinian relations promoted by QuAIA.
  2. Pride should make better use of their its platform by de-emphasizing the naked, gyrating party and trying to put more media spotlight on their core messages of acceptance and openness.

On one of those two points, the one dealing with Queers against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA), I feel somewhat validated by the events of the past few months. Pride did distance themselves slightly from QuAIA which was enough (at the time) to get the wolves at City Hall to back off their bull-headed pledge to pull Pride’s funding. But more than that, it put the focus of this year’s parade back squarely where it belongs, on the continuing day-to-day struggles of LGBTQ peoples in Toronto. Even the flap over the absence of Mayor Rob Ford from the parade was at least centred on the idea that a leader of the people of Toronto should represent all the people of Toronto, especially those who have been marginalized.

On the second point, concerning the emphasis on crazy fun over strong political messaging, I was quite wrong. I failed to grasp the power of an event where people can be themselves, even if only for an afternoon. I can see now that Pride allows those who perhaps spend much of the year couching their real feelings and personality to break free. In that way, the parade is both precious and beautiful and the way in which it creates spaces where people can feel completely comfortable IS the broader political message. I’d overlooked that in the past and I’m relieved to have seen the error in my thinking.

With that mea culpa humbly managed, we must return to the business of the day, which again is centred on QuAIA and the continued funding of Pride by the City of Toronto.

On the July 4th edition of the John Oakley show, we were treated to an incomprehensible exchange between city Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and XTRA writer Andrea Houston. After the dust settled on the largely comical endeavour, we were left with a clear signal that the right-wing faction on Council would be renewing its quest to defund Pride and that they’d once again be using QuAIA as a wedge.

Sadly,  Houston mishandled her opportunity, spent far too much of the interview calling Mammoiliti names and worse, she confused the messaging about whether or not QuAIA had actually marched in either the main Sunday parade or the Dyke March. So intent was Houston on making hay out of Mammoliti’s silly videotaping stunt that she allowed him and his accomplice, John Oakley, to frame the conversation entirely around defunding Pride on the grounds that the festival had somehow broken a promise to sideline QuAIA.

Only near the end did Houston clearly state that QuAIA had not marched in the Dyke March or the Sunday parade, but by that time the damage was done. Mammoliti had successfully re-launched his campaign to defund Pride and the pro-Pride contingent was left looking both petty and incapable of providing a compelling argument against defunding.

This morning’s AM radio spectacle was the opening salvo in the war to kill Pride. It was the Fort Sumpter of what’s sure to be a long and painful struggle against the forces of the ignorance and fear. Do not for a second underestimate the importance of what transpired on this morning. Mammoliti used a friendly forum to firmly established his message and the Pro-Pride contingent came off as though they weren’t taking any of this seriously.

So let’s stop screwing around, ‘cause this is serious. And while it might be good Twitter fun to take pot shots at Mammoliti for his perceived pervy behaviour, it’ll get you exactly nowhere with the AM radio crowd. And guess what, you need the AM radio crowd. Sorry.

If an effective defense of Pride is to be mounted in the coming months, it must, in my opinion, accept the following 3 statements:

  1. There has never been a persuasive argument for defunding Pride. If ever you are presented with an argument, it will be a bad one. If ever you encounter a person making such an argument, they will not be able to back it up. The whole notion that the city should not fund public festivals is weak and easily attacked. But knowing one is righteous does not assure victory. In fact, it often guarantees the opposite.
  2. If Pride is to survive it must distance itself from QuAIA and by extension, it must also concede that arguing for Pride in the context of Freedom of Expression is not an effective method of convincing Mayor Ford’s base of Pride’s benefits. They don’t care. They should, it’s horrific that they don’t, but they don’t. That was proven this year and last in reference to QuAIA and Pride and it was really proven at the G20. Please, I get how horrible this statement is and what it says about Canada in the 21st century. But you to deal with reality of reality’s terms. And today, these are the terms.
  3. Pride and its supporters must set the terms of the debate with the anti-Pride contingent, they must be willing to focus on issues that might appeal to that contingent and they must strongly resist the efforts of the Mayor and his cohorts to engage them in a debate about QuAIA or any related topic.

Pride meets all the requirements of the Respect for Taxpayers model. It provides good return on investment, it’s pro-business, it provides a service to a segment of Toronto’s population and it’s a shining example of a Public Private Partnership (PPP). These are our weapons. They’re clear, they apply to all public festivals and they focus on issues of economic development over social politics. In short, they’re coffee shop topics. That’s why they’ll work.

If the numbers I’m hearing are correct, the 2011 Pride celebrations have generated $130 million for business owners in the City of Toronto. That’s a 100x return on the City’s investment. Supporters of Pride should be publicly thanking the City for their wise economic investment in Toronto business owners and for their continued focus on the economic development of the city in these tough times.

That’s not enough, you say? Alright, well how about citing Pride as an example of a PPP. No one loves PPP more than the Mayor and his cohorts. Hell, that’s how we’re going to pay for the whole city, right? Private businesses chip in their share of the Parade funding and they get advertising and naming rights in return. No one is asking the City to fund the parade all on their own, just to maintain their share of a successful PPP.

And as to these claims that Pride should be self-supporting; well economic stimulus is a loss leader. If Ford and Co. don’t believe that, just cite their pals in Ottawa who’ve given away millions of dollars to boost small business owners. The city’s just keeping in step with their ideological brethren and for a fraction of the federal sum. Again, Pride supporters would do well to praise the City at every opportunity.

Finally, Pride and its supporters should follow Mammoliti’s argument and frame this as a debate about the funding of festivals in general. Show the people of this city how their modest investment of tax dollars is paid back to small business a hundred-fold. Show them how big festivals like Pride, Luminato, Caribana and Nuit Blanche are key economic drivers and important sources of stimulus in depressed economic times.

Yes, I understand that the debate about Pride isn’t about the money for Ford, Mammoliti and any of the other people who currently inhabit the halls of power in Toronto. For them, it’s about not wanting to fund a gay event. But tragic as it may be, that doesn’t matter. Ford wasn’t elected by passion and he can’t be defeated by passion. He was elected with consistent messaging. You need to convince Ford’s base in order to get his support. The methods for motivating his base aren’t a secret, so use them.

There is absolutely no benefit derived from launching personal attacks on the very people who control the purse strings to which Pride is desperately beholden.

“Hey, you’re a dirty homophobe…now see the error of your ways and give me some money.”

This is flawed logic, based in fantasy and only those blinded by self-righteousness would bother to use it. Make no mistake; this is going to be a war. And if the supporters of Pride continue to fight it indignantly, they will lose. Pride is too vital for its defense to be left to those who think shouting down the other side is an effective debating technique.

We have to do better and be better; that’s the only way it’ll get better. This isn’t about appeasement; it’s about fighting the enemy using their own weapons against them. It’s strategy over passion, reason over emotion and finally, Pride over prejudice. This isn’t a battle the forces of good can afford to lose. The death of Pride would be the social equivalent of dropping a bomb on the city. All of the hard-won advancements in universal rights would be wiped out and worse, it would give the purveyors of fear all the momentum they’d need to start chipping away at the rights of other minorities and eventually, everyone.

This is the time for mind over heart. So get your head into the game.

33 comments

  1. Pride meets all the requirements of the Respect for Taxpayers model.

    Is it actually possible to use that as a weapon against the populist demagogue faction? Transit City was much more respectful of taxpayers in terms of cost-benefit ratio than Ford’s transit ideas, but Respect for Taxpayers didn’t save it. Can it save Pride?

    Pride is too vital for its defense to be left to those who think shouting down the other side is an effective debating technique.

    While shouting down the other side is not my favourite debating technique, is it not also the debating technique that will be used by Mammoliti and Ford? Can reason defeat shouting in the court of public opinion?

  2. Having listened to the John Oakley Show clip, I have to say that Mammoliti and Oakley completely owned that debate.

    This war on Pride is only the latest battle and it will not be won with more shouting. The strategies in the piece above are how this battle (if not the war) will be won.

    (I really hate using war analogies but that’s what it’s come to in order to defend the Toronto we love)

  3. This post should be required reading for progressives across the city, not just those with an interest in Pride, but those with interests in any progressive causes that are under fire under the Ford administration — transit, bikes, public space, Priority Neighbourhood investment, etc.

    To win these battles, we need to think about them from the other side.

    As Josh argues, we can’t fight them on the basis of fairness or rights.

    We can’t fight them on logic or facts (e.g., “Look at these detailed statistics! They prove that the Jarvis bike lanes haven’t made traffic worse and have increased bike traffic.”) Facts are distrusted and elitist, and are secondary to intuition (truth vs. truthiness).

    We can’t even always rely on fighting them on the basis of so-called respect for taxpayers. We saw dozens of citizen committees facing the axe despite resulting in no significant cost savings, because most of them were contrary to the Fordist ideology, and because some councillors didn’t believe staff’s statement that no financial benefit would result. For that matter, the Transit City vs. privately-funded Sheppard subway debacle should be Exhibit A on this matter. Ford’s election mantra notwithstanding, the “respect for taxpayers” mantra is priority number two – number one being ideology and the dismantling of anything associated with David Miller.

    We need to recognize that these are now the rules, at least for the next three and a half years, and learn to fight our battles under the new rules.

    We need to use taxpayer respect for us rather than against us (like Pride’s return on investment), although we cannot rely on that.

    We need to plan more intelligently to find ways to achieve our desired results within the current political framework. For example, improving the TTC not through large and expensive projects but through small-scale incremental improvements that speed up service and allow the time savings to be reinvested in headway improvements… moving the southbound stop at Vic Park and Gerrard north by 50 metres would allow buses to get through on one light cycle instead of two.

    We may need to temper our desires and “settle” for what we can get and where we can find common cause with at least the more moderate centre, if not the right, rather than fighting for the ideal. Rather than fight for bike lanes on Danforth, let’s get the City to change the lane lines east of Pape to match those west of Pape, which would have benefits to bike riders, drivers, and pedestrians. Not ideal for bikes, but easier to get buy-in, and a partial solution actually in place is better than an ideal solution that never materializes.

    And the next year and a half will be crucial. Next year anything and everything will become a scapegoat in wrestling with the $800M budget deficit, or in distracting the populace from the failure to address the $800M budget. And in the last year or two of Ford’s administration, he may be more hesitant to introduce any measures that may be viewed as controversial, meaning that anything that needs to be cut, needs to be cut now while there is political capital to spend.

  4. how i would love it if Pride just cancelled next year’s event, in response to Ford’s petty government. now that, would be political.

  5. Who are we going to back for the next mayoral election?  Do we have someone able to defeat Ford?  Are we cultivating and supporting that person now?  Who is presenting a clear and compelling alternative to Ford Nation that we can trust and rally around? These are questions keeping me up at night and I’m not even legal to vote here yet!

  6. I don’t know that the economic multiplier arguments are any more legit when used to argue for cultural investments than when they’re used to argue for investment in professional sports and arena building. Cultural events need to be supported because they make the city more fun and vibrant, they improve quality of life, and in doing so make it place where people want to live and businesses want to locate. If some bars and hotels score windfall profits for a week that’s a bonus, but the measurements tend to exaggeration, and hustling for spare change probably isn’t any way to run a city.

  7. My sense is that the ‘AM radio crowd’ is swayed by the larger argument that NO  community festivals should receive ANY public funding at all. This is a harder argument to counter, because:

    – It appeals to an ‘essentials only’ public funding sentiment, e.g. Should we spend our money on transit or super-gay parades? Aren’t we in a financial crisis?

    – It suggests funding is unecessary: “If the parade is so popular, shouldn’t it be able to raise sufficient private support?”

    – Many people feel completely outside of these festivals – I don’t benefit from this; I am not gay/jamaican/artsy (or an artsy gay jamaican…).

    Breaking it down like this makes it a little easier to tackle – and I think addresses the real (non-explicitly homophobic) arguments more directly.

    Some counter arguments that come to mind:

    – I suspect Pride is a very well run festival, and one could probably show they’ve done a hell of a job raising corporate sponsorship over the last 10 years or so. I’m sure the total budget and proportion paid by the city would show sound financial management. We’re putting our public money into responsible hands. 
    – Toronto is in competition with other regional and global cities: in the same way that our TV industry took a permanent hit when we reduced tax incentives for filming here, we could lose our place as a premiere destination for festivals like Pride and Carribana to an opportunistic neighbor.

    – In the same way we pay for roads that we don’t necessarily use, we all benefit from the presence of these festivals financially and in other ways. Developing Skydome and the ACC were similar propositions. 

  8. Good points Tim, but I think the point of this is that “fun and vibrant” and “quality of life” currently aren’t working as political currency these days…..

  9. The Pride Parade is one of the most important events in the city, I am sure brings people from all the places, and it is a great attraction, people spend money going there and this keeps the city being exciting and fun. I dont think the funding should be suspended, or maybe next year it will be called Scotiabank Pride =P

  10. @Shawn Micallef
    Wasn’t Fordism supposed to bring the fun back to the city? Or am I just mixing headlines in my brain? I think fun and vibrant IS relevant… the question is whose opinion of it.

  11. There’s something in the Mammoliti / Oakley approach that is at the heart of the Ford argument. It is frighteningly visceral and effective.  The core of the argument can be distilled into one sentence: Those people take your money and give it to people who disrespect you.  

    This is not an argument aimed at your intellect, it’s aimed at your gut. You’re being played for a chump by people who laugh at you.  It is designed to provoke anger and a willingness to strike back.  

    It resonates with people who listen to AM Radio because they know that their working class life is harder, meaner, and riskier than before.  Governments trumpet the new economy and politicians stopped talking about protecting them from the financial uncertainty in their lives long ago.

    To put forward a rational justification for funding Pride completely misses the core of their attack and the emotions that it feeds. AM Radio listeners will tune it out.

    I wish I had the answer, but I don’t.  We need to find the effective counterweight to this attack because it is being picked up at the National and Provincial levels.  

  12. Josh, are you part of the LGBTQ community? I don’t think you are. One of the toughest things about being an ally is learning to support the existing leadership and priorities of a community, rather than trying to impose your own beliefs about the best way to do things. I’m sure you have great ideas. So do lots of people in the community, and I’d like to see spacing inviting some of those voices to speak, rather than trying to speak for them. I invite you to ponder on that.

  13. Oh, wait… going to look at Josh’s original article on his blog, I see you didn’t include the charming postscript where he tells the queer community to fuck themselves if they don’t want his learned advice. Thanks Josh.

  14. While it may not please people to be called homophobes, there is no question that the attack on Pride stems from that base. We can’t just put that issue aside because we might antagonize the very people we are trying to convince.

    Mammoliti and his ilk will never be persuaded, and they’re not the audience — it’s the swing vote in the middle of the political spectrum.

    Most disgusting is the exploitation of the pro-Israeli lobby as a mechanism to attack Pride. Which groups do we set against each other next? Blacks in poor neighbourhoods versus the white working class who feel their taxes are “wasted” on public programs? Will Catholics be recruited as the next anti-gay group? If a Muslim conference speaker targeted Jews instead of gays, would he be condemned?

    It’s the politics of division, of driving wedges between communities that is so unlike the Toronto many have tried to build. People who do this need to be called out for what they are, and their vicious prejudice should not be papered over with talk of economic benefits and private sector partnerships.

  15. I think we do need to change our tactics for the next few years, especially with Ford and Harper in power for now.

  16. This has nothing to do with literally a handfull of people who are passionate about their opposition to Israel’s policy towards Palistinians. We have been dealing with this for decades from homophobes who fear any celebration of sexual or gender diversity that doesn’t match their own narrow concept of heterosexual/gender conforming hegemony. They will find what they see ‘fit’ to demonize an entire community over a few. This time its QuAIA. In the past, the targets were others in the LGBT community who expressed opinions that the M-O-R heterosexual felt uncomfortable with and feared (psychoanalysis will be left out of this comment). Contrary to the view of the homophobes that are blowing this way out of proportion, the majority of the LGBT community could care less about most social issues, unless they affected by them personally. Israel/Palistine affairs is not one of those issues. I’m tired of heterosexuals feeling they have a ‘right’ to intrude upon my life and community when I’m powerless over their’s. Do you really think I like being bombarded everyday with boring heterosexual behaviours and customs? I don’t, but I have to put up with it. Do you think I think being bombarded with religous views (any religion) and customs? I don’t. But somehow I have to live with those messages coming out of various groups, orientations and lifestyles because I want the freedome to go about in my life in a way that is comfortable for me, which means I have to accept others lives and behaviours that I don’t support but have to. Why do people feel they have a right to comment about what’s right, wrong and problematic about LGBT’s, when most other privileged identities are not scrutinized to such a degree?

  17. Paul – You are correct that I am not gay and as such can only be an “associate member” of the LGBTQ community, if that.

    But where you’re wildly off-base is in your interpretation of the postscript to the original post on my blog. It does not say that should the community fail to heed my advice, they can go fuck themselves. It does say that anyone who would offhandedly discount the opinion of a vocal ally simply because he’s not a member of the community can go fuck themselves. 

    From the postscript:

    ” A festival of this kind can and should be just as important to a straight man like me as it is to a member of the LGBTQ community. Either we’re all in this together or we’re not.”

  18. why are we hearing from so called ‘allies’ in spacing who demonstrably don’t understand the complexity of the issues at hand?

    there are so many folks in the community that could have written a much better piece about this than what we are seeing here. why is spacing profiling the words of someone who isn’t part of the community, and clearly has no ability to grasp what is going on here?

    as a queer member of the community who has been involved in pride for over 20 years now, in a variety of ways, and who is not a member of quaia or dykes in support of palestine (who marched in the dyke march and are the ones mammoliti is getting his knickers in a twist over), i fully support so called ‘political messaging’ in parades. to say this is not about homophobia, oppression and the right to freedom of speech is to miss the whole point of pride, and of the importance of the inclusion of the messaging around apartheid in israel, along with a host of other political issues on display *every year* at pride. .

    pride is inherently political, that is why i love it. and the politics are not one note – they are not just about who i want to f*ck. or marry (not that i want to do that, but more power to those who do). it is about the pain of racism, mixed in with your homophobia or transphobia, of classism and whorephobia, of anti-immigration, ableism, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and a host of other isms. it is about naming and doing something about unearned and stolen privileges, like white privilege, straight privilege, non-disabled privilege, class privilege, citizenship, etc etc.

    there is no doubt that our community has and continues to struggle with these issues internally, as any community that is doing it’s work in an ongoing way must do. this is work that never ends- nobody ‘gets there’ and is without privilege or isms and their manifestations, not ever, and neither do communities.

    I myself stopped going to the sunday parade at all due to my disillusionment over the increasing corporatization and what i considered to be the mainstreaming of this message. that this sentiment was echoed by the larger community was seen in the huge groundswell of support for a truer, more political pride, that reflects these ongoign issues and struggles, over the past year.

    the take back the dyke march last year, the resignation of those in charge of pride and election of members much more in tune with the larger community, and these issues, this year’s stonewall march – this is what pride is about.

    if quaia isn’t ‘allowed’ to march in the parade (which was never the case, I suspect they only withdrew their intention to march because they knew mammoliti and ford would use it as an excuse to punish pride, and they kept their part the the bargain), then what about those marching and protesting the treatment of sex workers who a also members of our community, new canadians (including those without status),nudists, the poor and working class, seniors, youth, persons with disabilities, the bdsm community, substance users, transsexual, transgendered, intersexed, and those on a variety of places in the gender swirl, 2-spirited and first nations, inuit and metis communities, racialised communities, language communities, and so on. are they next?

    I am proud of the direction pride is going, I am glad Dykes and Transpeople In support of Palestine was part of the dyke march and welcome them back next year, and greatly hope to see quaia is back next year as well.

    Mammoliti and Ford need to understand that there is something in Canada called free speech. They and the Harperites of the world may have been doing all they can to erode it, and access to appeals and supports when these rights are taken away, but they are still our rights. and if they defund pride, based on this ridiculous pretext, they are in for one hell of a fight.

  19. I’m having a little trouble with the whole idea of “saving pride” – when it should be called “saving pride as a money generating exercise”. Most long-time attendees I know are horrified by the rank hucksterism of vodka and other product placements throughout pride that have nothing to do with our civil rights or our history. If Mammolitti takes away civic funding, there is nothing to stop us from making our presence known and celebrating our selves without that funding. We did it all through the eighties with little to no response (or funding) from the city, and we can certainly do it again. Of course the pride that we have today is going to be affected by other interests, political and the like, as our acceptance of monies leads to that opening. If we want our pride on our terms, then let’s dump the civic and corporate sponsorships. Kowtowing to the city etc, by marginalising QUAIA, is just the thin edge of the wedge. This kind of behaviour is called APPEASEMENT; and we shouldn’t have to appease anyone. We would have never had a march, or parade or equal rights or marriage or anything if we appeased those out there that want to see us controlled.

  20. Hi Steve – Thanks for responding. I agree that homophobia is at the heart of the sustained attacks on Pride from Mammoliti, Ford et. al. and I’ve said as much above. But the argument I’m making is a political one, not a moral or an ethical one. It is my political opinion that the community and it’s allies will not achieve their goals and win the broad support they need if they continue to vilify their opponents, even if their opponents have earned it.

    The moral argument for calling out the vicious and divisive members of society is very strong. I would categorize it as nearly inarguable. Nearly, except for the unfortunate contradiction that comes with calling someone divisive and then dividing them out as a homophobe. But even that clever distinction isn’t the foundation for a sustainable argument. It might present a contradiction, but doesn’t excuse anyone’s awful behaviour.

    I’ve tried to argue that righteousness and success are not inevitable companions. And while the idea of sacrificing the moral victory for the overall victory has an understandably unpleasant taste, I’m simply contending that it’s better than the alternative. And in this case, from my admittedly detached standpoint, the alternative is the end of Pride.

  21. The way I prefer to argue things when confronted with heated types with their head in the sand is to use an argument that removes anyone being personally right or wrong and simply looking for precedent elsewhere:

    “Ok, listen. Everyone is making good points. But this is not the only city/company/frisbee team in the universe and surely we can say that if we pick out a group of our peers, who face similar issues, and see what outcome they chose and how it turned out…. well that’s a good indication of which way we should proceed, right?”

    “Because if you disagree with that statement, then you are effectively saying that you are such an expert/supergenius/tyrant that you are smarter than all of those peers, and I know I’m not.”

    “And if the resulting number of widgets/personal appearances/kegs required is more than zero but less than infinity, well now we’ll just try to pin down the number.”

    For mayors, this can be used on Boy Scout Jamborees, Robbie Burns Night, Hot Dog Eating Contests — whatever. Find the precedent peer group, then follow best practices. Applied to gay pride, the argument goes something like this:

    “George/Doug/Rob, let’s not debate the personal issues here or get lost in the details. Why don’t we check what other cities do, and whatever the result we agree that we should do it too. Right? If we were talking about good ways to fund youth football, for example, you could totally go out on your own because I know you are an expert in that. But it’s not rude to say none of you are experts in gay issues, so why don’t we look around a bit for examples.”

    “Huh, turns out that every other top-10 global gay pride parade involved the participation of its mayor in the parade. And every other large metro city in North America that has a gay festival has had some mayoral participation either annually or early in the term. I think we have our answer, and no one’s feelings get hurt about the value of their personal argument. We are simply following best practices and clear precedent from people/cities we like (and we’re talking Chicago/Daley here, not Miller)”

    Of course, I tried arguing this many times with regard to LRT and a good number of people always said “who cares about stupid Minneapolis — this is Toronto.” If all of Ford Nation decide to be ostriches, then there is no hope. But if a few people open their eyes to looking outside the 416, there are lots of potential solutions to any problem without needing 2500 comments on the Globe message boards. Even Gay Pride.

  22. By the way, if a survey of the global top 10 gay festivals shows that none of them receive municipal funding, then I am ok with that position. One has to be consistent.

    But I seriously doubt that is the case. I think London gave 100,000 pounds, though Boris has been trying hard to move away from direct municipal grants.

  23. I agree we must reach out to the AM crowd. I disagree that they are all with Ford.

    I firmly believe that Ford was elected by sensible people who believed Ford was on their side, and that Smitherman and Pants were not. Even now, I cannot argue that Ford was any less credible than the opportunist or the has-been.

    I also firmly believe that Ford’s Pride stance has brought things to a tipping point. While there remain plenty of homophobes out there who are cheering Ford and Mammoliti on, most people strongly oppose homophobia and hate. They also oppose chaos and divisiveness.

    The kryptonite for populist conservatives is 1) incompetence, 2) weakness, and 3) irresponsible creation of uncertainty. All three were and remain on display.

    And so, I would hit on these points and not hold back. But we should do it from the political centre, with the AM crowd as the intended audience.

  24. More kryptonite for all Toronto mayors: international embarrassment

    Following the recent New York state decision on same sex marriage, NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg is launching an aggressive campaign to attract gay couples wishing to marry. Who wants to bet that NYC will try to use Rob Ford to show that Toronto is not as welcoming as it once was? I also suspect there are international publications that noted mayor Ford’s absence from the parade, and perhaps even noted #peepingmammoliti’s video-stalking.

    Mel Lastman never lived down his comments about natives and being boiled alive. It’s only a matter of time before Ford has a similar moment.

  25. The “Respect for Taxpayers” argument may be marginally useful, but only as a rhetorical device. It has no place in any substantial debate; it is based on a foundation of false assumptions and the nauseatingly stupid straw-man construct commonly referred to as the “pissed-off taxpayer.” 

    It is not a discussion to which we should devote any more than passing energy. If we allow the Fords and Mammolitis of this world to define the terms for the discussion, then we’ve lost before we’ve even started. Arguing on their terms is a losing proposition. We’re much better off framing the discussion in moral terms. Homophobia is wrong, period. The presence or absence of a few demonstrators chanting things that B’nai B’rith or the Canadian Jewish Congress doesn’t like doesn’t make it any less wrong, and if people like Ford and Mammoliti want to use it as an excuse to cut funding to Pride, I’d submit we’re better off exposing the transparency of that excuse.

    Yes, it may sound a little preachy to some. But we’re never going to win over Ford nation or the AM radio crowd.

  26. So, Mammoliti is an opportunitist, it doesn’t necessarily make him the poster child for the more conservative average right of centre Torontoist. That being said it doesn’t make everyone and anyone that supported Ford’s platform of accountability and responsibility a “head banger” either. If you don’t mind me asking, what the hell is the “AM radio crowd” you folks keep referring to or is this your poor attempt at urbanity. And another thing, what’s with this naive “freedom of speech” hubris. If you are going to accept public funds don’t expect it not to come with some strings attached. I don’t think it is asking too much to put a cap on political rhetoric that incites intolerance in our city. Its time to give your head a shake. That’s my rant and I’m sticking to it.

  27. If by urbane, you mean that I am being witty and highly literate, then yes, all of my writing is an attempt at urbanity. If you are attempting to redefine the word to mean “a bit too clever for one’s own good” or “a bit too urban”, then I will admit that I am that as well.

    As for the “AM radio crowd”, I invite you listen to 1010 or 640 and find out what I mean. If you think I’m assigning a pejorative meaning to AM radio crowd, you’re wrong. I define the listeners of (and moreover the callers to) AM radio as being a more conservative and more vocal subset of what I believe is the mildly conservative majority of Torontonians.

    But that isn’t me trying to be clever. Clearly a shift in voting habits within the city has put Toronto on a more conservative slant. But I am also arguing that Toronto has always been both mildly conservative, and wholly opportunistic. In other words, the electorate has always known what side it’s bread was buttered on and has acted accordingly. For 100 years that meant voting Liberal, now it seems to be Conservative. I don’t for a second think that means the general electorate is yearning for Harper or Ford’s more extreme politics.

    So, not only am I arguing that the AM radio crowd was always there, but that they probably voted Liberal for years despite their conservative ranting on the radio. Now, their guys are in office and they’re yelling a bit more boldly. None of this is surprising.

    But, if you think as I do, you see Toronto has a very pliable majority. If manipulated (yeah, I said it) in the right way I’ll wager you can eventually get them on side for just about anything. However, if you take a giant crap on their heads they’ll always go back to the guy who treats them nicely. 

    As to this nonsense about government money being contingent on content…well…give me a break. The whole idea of public money is that it’s the only money that can come without the provisos upon which a corporate entity might insist. The government (and the people, by extension) are expected to have a stronger stomach for differing views since their tolerance of those views also guarantees the free expression of their own crazy ideas. That’s the deal. You get to say what you want, I get to say what I want.

    Canada already has a substantial set of laws that govern the incitement of violence, the spreading of hate and the dissemination of racial and historical untruths. As Pride (and it’s associated partners) have never been found guilty of the criminal violation of these laws, on what basis can the City or any government entity attach these strings to which you refer? Their own moral judgement? Feh! We do not elect municipal governments to interpret the law or impose their limited morality on any situation.

    We don’t even elect them to make laws, save for bylaws. And even that’s probably a questionable idea…

  28. Unlike, Paul, Leanne C was making a fair argument from LGBT point of view, and I totally agree with her.  

    But the messages from the conservative side are quite simple, and they don’t argue the importance of promoting gay rights and acceptance of LGBT community.

    From what I understood by reading this article, I’d put it this way:

    1) please stay away from antisemetic message
    2) please tone down the nakedness and too much emphasis on sex

    I don’t see the need to fight those 2 points Mammoliti was making.  Without those points, the message of gay rights movement will still not be compromised. And it’s perhaps not as liberal as LGBT community would like to make Pride to be, but both sides need to be ready to compromise.  As long as LGBT community insists on their way or no way, then unfortunately they will face the defund from the city.  

  29. Josh,
    You are missing steve’s powerful which is it crap like this needs to be called what it is. It is righteous and it is also right. Being right is a powerful organizing tool. People want to do the Right Thing. You do not compromise not only because you are ” right” but also it the surest way to loose.
    Also the reasons the fords and the harpers won is not because of a swing vote but people did not vote.

  30. Thanks, Joshua, for being an ally. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I truly do appreciate your support.

    Unfortunately, I think you’re 100% wrong here. The ultimate goal of Pride has never been to receive funding from the city. It’s never been to host a million people and be the best party in Toronto. Those aren’t the most important things, and they definitely don’t justify shutting down part of our own community.

    I hate to say this, but it’s not about you, it’s about us. It’s about rejoicing in our incredibly colourful, messy, fabulous diversity. It’s about activism and politics, and specifically human rights. No one from our community should get shut down for defending anyone’s rights at Pride. Full stop.

    If you want to be a part of that, fantastic. We’d love to have you. But it has to be on our terms. The needs of our community come first at Pride.

    Mammoliti and Ford are homophobes, and their motivation through all this has been obvious. The hate speech angle was ridiculous from day one. We need to say this, and keep saying it. We needn’t waste our time on people who refuse to see it. Pride is political, yes, but it’s not an election campaign. We don’t need to win those people’s support.

    Pride’s relationship with the city has turned abusive, and it’s time to get out. They’re right, we don’t need their money. If that means the private sector steps in to fill the gap, fantastic. If it means Pride has to reduce its size and scope, that’s fine, too. If it means we go back to being a bunch of radical queers defiantly marching through the streets without money or permits, no problem. In any case, Pride will be a reflection of our place in this city.

    Times have certainly changed around here in the couple of years since we won the right to host World Pride 2014. It would be sad to see that slip away, but if that happens, it will be Toronto’s shame, not ours.

  31. Dave, I think you make a terrific point. 

    If it was the goal of the organizers of Pride and of the larger community to maintain Pride in it’s current, massive form and that the only way to do that was to seek City money, then I still believe my proposal above can get the job done.

    However, you make a very valid counterargument. What if it’s more important for the community to maintain it’s moral standing? What if that’s more important than throwing the biggest party? If that’s the case, then I think you’ve got it exactly. Tell the city to stick their money up their bigoted arse and go it alone. There’s a substantial sacrifice to be made, but maybe the sacrifice contains a more profound statement than all the oversized pageantry could ever make. The statement that the goals and values of the community are bigger than the Festival itself.

    Love the point, love the way you presented it; and, speaking honestly, if it were me I’d probably throw the big middle finger to the city too.

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