City of Toronto report on funding Pride Toronto (2017)

A report (local PDF) by Patrick Tobin, Director, Arts and Culture Services, City of Toronto makes the following statements about funding Pride Toronto.

Pride Toronto’s festival will take place June 1-25, 2017. [Its] Annual General Meeting was held January 17, 2017. At that time, Pride Toronto was without any senior management staff. At the AGM, the membership in attendance voted to ban the participation of Toronto Police Service officers in uniform in the Pride Parade and related festival activities. Public controversy ensued including strong divisions within the LGBTQ2S communities between those who disagreed profoundly with the ban, and those who supported it.

There were and continues to be calls in the media for the City to withhold Pride Toronto’s grant for this year’s festival unless members of the Toronto Police Service are included. On February 10, Chief Saunders issued a press release stating that the Toronto Police Service would not participate in the 2017 Pride Parade. On February 17, Pride Toronto hired its Executive Director, Olivia Nuamah, who has moved quickly to hire staff and plan the 2017 festival. (Although the City provides a grant to festival organizers, the grant funding is not allocated to policing services, nor is it for the parade itself. The costs attributable to policing are borne directly by the Toronto Police Service budget. City of Toronto funding to Pride Toronto supports the administration of the organization and the Pride Week cultural festival.)

Staff from Economic Development and Culture Division, Social Development and Financial Administration Division, Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Division and Legal Services recommend that the City continue to fund Pride Toronto for several reasons.

  • First, the application received from the organization was assessed positively, by the external advisory committee according to the program assessment criteria. Pride Toronto’s application and planned activities were deemed as meeting program objectives. Notably, Pride Toronto’s application was subject to significant scrutiny, due to recent changes in the organization’s governance and management, and emerged from a relative assessment with other applicants to the program very favourably. Despite the turnover of the board and staff, the organization has displayed professionalism in organizing the 2017 festival and planning is well under way.

  • Second, Pride Toronto has complied with the City’s Community Grants Policy and with Access, Equity and Human Rights policies and legislation. The specific issue of the exclusion of uniformed police from marching in the parade has been anlyzed and does not contravene the City Human Rights Policy or the Ontario Human Rights Code. Legal Services has been consulted in this regard and has advised that no grounds or areas protected by the Human Rights Code or the City’s Human Rights Policy are invoked by this matter. “Being a uniformed police officer” is not a ground of discrimination protected by the Human Rights Code or the City’s Human Rights Policy. Even if it were, the City’s Human Rights Policy protects City of Toronto employees from discrimination by the City, as their employer. Toronto Police Officers are not employees of the City of Toronto and not protected by the City’s Human Rights Policy. Further, the City’s Human Rights Policy protects the public who receive services from the City, from being discriminated against by City of Toronto employees, and this is not at play in this matter.

  • Third, City policies governing granting and administrative practice to date, have not dictated to funded organizations what should be programmed or who should attend funded events as long as they comply with City policies and Human Rights legislation. In terms of cultural funding, withholding Pride Toronto’s funding for its decisions on who may march in the parade raises freedom of expression issues and sets a precedent for the City’s involvement in the internal operations of a cultural organization.

  • Fourth and finally, it is the opinion of staff that the LGBTQ2S community is not a homogen[e]ous one and there will naturally be dissent within it. In past years, when there has been dissention and disagreement about who gets to march in Pride, Pride Toronto has used a Dispute Resolution Process to resolve those disputes. The Grants Policy requires that the recipient organization have such a process for the purposes of resolving complaints. To date, staff are not aware that Pride Toronto’s process has been engaged in this case.

We’re gonna stop right there.

  1. The Dispute Resolution Process was not set up to comply with City of Toronto policy. It may also do that (arguably it does not), but that was not its genesis.

  2. “Staff” are wilfully blind to the fact that a complaint under the DRP was filed against Black Lives Matter Toronto, and are further wilfully blind to the fact that the complaint has now reached the courts.

  3. Pride Toronto has used the DRP precisely twice and ignored other complaints under the DRP. It is false to imply that Pride Toronto has consistently carried out investigations into complaints under the DRP. The only accurate thing to say is that Pride picks and chooses which complaints to investigate.

With a new management and board in place, Pride Toronto and the Toronto Police Service should be given an opportunity for dialogue and future cooperation that is focussed on rebuilding and restoring relations.

In summary, while Council retains the ultimate discretion to refuse a grant where it does not believe that such a grant is in the interests of the City, there are no specific violations of existing City’s policies governing granting which would result in a staff recommendation to withhold funding to Pride Toronto in 2017.