GayandRight to Toronto Pride: Stop Whining....
Why on earth does Toronto Pride need funding from the Canadian Government? Barbara hits the right note here...
Last year Pride Toronto received $397,500 from the federal government's Marquee Festival and Events Program (MFEP) in its first year. MFEP's decision to withdraw funding of Pride Toronto this year was naturally an unhappy surprise to the festival's organizers.
Executive Director Tracey Sandilands' conclusion was that "queer events are not worthy of government investment," and, as she stupidly commented to the CBC, "It certainly seems that there are [homophobic] elements in the government."
That kind of kneejerk blackmail thankfully doesn't work with this government, which was right to rethink its endorsement of the event. The government should not be funding any particular group's parochial pride, whether it is pride in its sexual identity, or linguistic, national or cultural identity. As we have seen with the Sikh parades out West, the benign and celebratory aspects of a parade in its developing phase can eventually attract pernicious parasitic elements that provoke virulent and even dangerous intra-group passions on the taxpayer's dime.
Case in point: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA). Pride Toronto did its image no favours by havering over the right of QAIA to profit by the parade infrastructure and resources to create a toxic atmosphere in the last several years.
Under pressure from voluble anti-QAIA city councillors, taxpayers' associations and activist Jewish gays rightfully offended and discomfited by QAIA's hateful messaging, Toronto may cut its funding to Pride - we'll know in a few days - and it's unclear whether the Ontario provincial government will contribute the same $350,000 this year that they gave in 2009. Apparently several sponsors already have quietly dropped their endorsement over the QAIA issue, as the Pride Toronto website as of May 9 shows only two corporate sponsors, TD Bank and Labatt Breweries. Proctor and Gamble and Pepsi Cola were there a month ago, but seem to have decamped, along with others.
Who should the MFEP fund, if anyone? If Ottawa is to persist in the questionable practice of using tax money to choose winners and losers among the thousands of arts events on offer, it should focus on those that appeal to interests in which all Canadians feel welcome and engaged. The Montreal Jazz Festival and the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival will receive $3 million each this year, as they have in past years. They create massive tourism, they are unpoliticized and they unify their populations in positive, peaceful ways. The federal government should fund arts, sports and culture, not "queer arts," "Jewish sports," "black music," or "Ukrainian pride."