Questions from Mark Smith before Pride Toronto AGM

Via Mark Smith’s Facebook (2017.01.15). Heavily cleaned up (I stopped copy-editing after Smith started calling me names); links added.

Welcome to all of candidates for the board of Pride Toronto. With almost nine years of personal experience on Pride board, I will now throw cold water on your ambitions by stating that the Pride board is where activism goes to die. This can and should change.

Top to bottom, the Pride Toronto structure must change. That change will come not from your voice but in your ability to listen.

I have some questions for you. Seeing that the agenda for the meeting on Tuesday has little time for Q&A, I ask that you answer these for me.

  1. As a board member, do you agree to establish strong communication and transparency policies?

    • Because PT waited until the very last possible minute to release information, the membership has been placed in a very difficult position in casting their votes. How would you change that?

    • In the past two years, PT has removed the alphabet from all official correspondence. [He means Pride Toronto has stopped using acronyms like LGBTTQQI2S*.] As members of the executive stated, “It is getting too cumbersome.” Tell us if you think this is the right path to take.

    • [On the topic of] establishing direct forms of contact for all board member and committee leads: Currently the only line of communication is to leave a phone message in the general mailbox or E‑mail the cochairs and executive director. Will you change this?

  2. Will you agree to establish an accountability round table? (Here the Pride board would convene a quarterly round table with representatives of all core Pride participant groups and would track progress made on ongoing issues and previous directives. With consensus, this roundtable would instruct the board and review its progress on issues of concern.)

  3. As a board member, it is implicit that you agree that pride is political. While it is important to remember that PT cannot possibly ensure that diversity of political policy is addressed, it can establish itself as a force for change by preparing statements of support or using its position to bring issues to the forefront.

    • The current cover story for Now discusses the politics of living with AIDS. Do you feel it is prudent for PT to raise these issues whenever the opportunity arises when meeting with political peaders?

    • What other issues do you feel need to be addressed?

    • Internationally, Pride has had a history of support for global LGBT issues. With the rise of antigay rhetoric south of the border, and with the New York City World Pride event happening in 2019, what do you think PT can do to support this event?

  4. Will you agree to review all sponsorships and establish a clear set of criteria for all corporations to adhere to when accepting [Pride’s] “support”?

  5. Will you agree to establish a “promise of action note” for all politicians to sign before allowing them to participate in the event? It would contain clear and set goals for fixing all legislation in regards to LGBT and basic human rights (as is in place in Calgary).

  6. Will you agree to establish a set of participation criteria for groups participating in the parade and at the festival site?

  7. Will you agree to a continued and solid suport of other pride events, large and small? This would include continued support of Fierté Canada Pride. In 2003 Pride secured the wordmark for “Pride.” This was meant as a way to support and protect the term. Part of this process was to establish Fierté Canada Pride as custodian of that wordmark. This ball has been dropped. (In fact PT’s representation for the past few years has been marked with indifference and pressure on FCP to have PT’s membership fees reduced.)

  8. Do you agree to establish a clear policy on nepotism in hiring; review all hiring and give clear instruction to the executive director on criteria required for all staff and contractors; and establish rules of conduct for staff?

  9. Do you agree to establish a clear policy on the division of staff and board relationships? (Undue influence by staff on board decisions has been a very apparent issue for the past six years.)

  10. Do you agree to re-establish strict guidelines for travel and expenses for staff, executive director, and board? (In other words, to re-adopt what was established in 2006?)

  11. Do you agree to review the corporate structure of Pride to seek better ways to administer your duties?

  12. And one last question: Other then grammar, what changes would you make to Pride Toronto’s board apology to BLMTO?

And on top of this, I would like current board members to clearly state if they intend to fulfill their terms. And if, as the bylaws state, the board can number 12 people, will each of these seats be filled? If not, why?