Mark Smith and Doug Elliott on Facebook (August 2016)

Remarks from Mark Smith, who, you’ll recall, was well involved with CAP and sat on the Pride board at one point:

My thoughts and hoped-for conversation at tonight’s Pride Toronto Round Table:

One of the clear issues that quietly weaved its way through the presentations last night, and dare I say over the history of PT for the past 16 years, is how the organization has lost its ability to relate to the community it serves.

This is round number three of a “six-year cycle” of friction between the community and Pride Toronto, and it is time to stop that cycle.

To do this, the structure of Pride Toronto must fundamentally change. It is not working. A full-stop change [in] the incorporation structure, how it recruits, how it communicates and interacts, and how it is lead.

  1. First: there must be a full stop on any hiring, until such time as these changes can be identified, specifically [the hiring of] a new executive director.

    The ED is seen as the focal point for communications, organizational development and execution. PT has lost the last three EDs before their contracts were fulfilled. Why? Let us look carefully at why, what we are asking, and what we are expecting.

    This is a Board duty and issue. One question to ask is “Who is doing the interviews?” – interviews that should be to help candidates fully understand their role, not to determine if they will fit.

    Question to ask: Is an ED really required?

  2. Second: Put out an immediate call to the community for interested people who think they have the capacity, energy and time to clearly and objectively consider a complete overhaul of the organization.

  3. Third: Set a timeline for change. With the full planning of the 2017 event not really starting until February 2017, you have a five-month window to create change.

    • If you delay the change, and wait until a new executive director is hired, you [saddle] the organization with a possible three-to-five-year rollout for change. Returning boardmembers must commit to doing double duty for those five months. It is going to be a lot of work, but it can be done.
    • Deliver three blueprints for infrastructure change to the community for discussion by mid-December, allow one month of discussion, then decide Pride Toronto’s fate for its future.

Doug Elliott’s comment

It seems that PT is headed for a schism. It is a shame – because until now we have, with some difficulty, managed to sustain a big tent.

We are now faced with a small but vocal group who demand many things, including respect, but do not offer respect in return. They do not want dialogue. They demand that things be done their way “at a minimum.” They will bully any dissenting voice into silence. For the first time these voices from the far left who argued so powerfully for inclusion and free speech for a group they loved, QuAIA, now argue for exclusion and censorship for a group they hate, the police.

Pride Toronto is either inclusive or it is not. It cannot just include those who are approved by – well, by whom? Gary Kinsman? Doug Elliott? If the voices of extremism seize control, as they seem determined to do, the current organization will not reform itself democratically. It will be commandeered and will eventually collapse into bankruptcy.

If those calling for exclusion and censorship are not prepared to engage in dialogue and compromise (and I saw no evidence of either last night), then sadly we must go our separate ways. I anticipate that the result will be greater polarization, with a very commercialized large New York–style event that will thrive, and a separate much smaller march by nostalgic Marxists and anarchists who will scream and shout. To their chargrin, they will be be ignored, but they will doubtless take solace in their politcal purity.

When that day comes, I will be a little sad. however, I will be busy enjoying Pride events in northern Ontario that are still inclusive – events that are full of joy and love instead of rancour and insults.