Home > Releases > Queer Ontario Boycotts Pride Community Consultations due to Flawed Advisory Panel Process

Queer Ontario Boycotts Pride Community Consultations due to Flawed Advisory Panel Process

August 30th, 2010

Queer Ontario announces that it will not be participating in the upcoming Pride Toronto Community Consultations to be conducted by the Advisory Panel currently being assembled by Pride Toronto. The group sees the process of constituting the Panel as fundamentally flawed and inconsistent with the values and principles of community relations and community engagement. Queer Ontario raises the following questions regarding the striking of the Pride Toronto Advisory Panel:

    • Given Pride Toronto’s establishment of the panel to answer to the concerns of the community — one being a lack of transparency on the part of the organization — why has this entire process been shrouded in secrecy without any consultation with the community? More fundamentally: why is Pride Toronto opposed to meeting directly with the very community it so urgently needs to re-establish a relationship with?

  • Why did Pride Toronto’s Board of Directors privilege Doug Elliott, Brent Hawkes and Maura Lawless with a private meeting while refusing to listen to the protests of the community, which had previously called for the same recommendations?
  • In devising a list of potential panelists, why did Hawkes consult with Kyle Rae, George Smitherman and Glen Murray, all high-profile (white male) politicians who hold views that are non-representative of the Toronto LGBT community’s political and social diversity? Similarly, why did Lawless consult with the executive directors of an unnamed list of community organizations, effectively overlooking the numerous grassroots LGBT groups and organizations without one? And how is it that Hawkes was able to appoint himself as Chair of this Advisory Panel, while Elliott added his own name to the list of candidates?
  • Apart from not wanting ‘polarizing figures’ (which completely ignores the divisiveness of the aforementioned politicians to some community members), what was the criteria used to formulate the list of potential candidates? Why was this criteria not made public, and why was the community not invited to participate in the nomination process?

Queer Ontario members are highly concerned and aggrieved that the most basic principles of community development are absent from this process. Principles such as: an openness to the involvement of those who are not necessarily high profile or simply parachuted in; a basic level of transparency, which would include the publication of the criteria used to select panelists or define the scope of the consultations; a commitment to developing a panel that is more representative of Toronto’s LGBT communities, both in terms of social locations and political perspectives; and an affirmation of the broader LGBT communities by involving them in the planning of these consultations from the start. Instead, what has transpired is a secretive, privileged, restrictive, and exclusive approach that suspiciously allows for self appointments and personal picks of people Hawkes deems ‘LGBTTIQQ2SA leaders and friends’ — a process that seriously undermines the credibility of the Panel and the integrity of the consultations.

Queer Ontario sees this elitist model as being counterintuitive to accountable community relations and counterproductive to Pride Toronto’s goal of direct community engagement. If Queer Ontario were to participate in these panel-directed consultations, we would in essence be granting legitimacy to a process that we feel does not merit any. Therefore, we are opting not to participate. Instead, we will be contacting Pride Toronto in an effort to meet directly with its staff and new Board to discuss its challenges as well as our own concerns surrounding the direction of the festival — a gesture that is meant to serve as a first step in reinstating positive Pride-Community relations. In the spirit of transparency, Queer Ontario will be posting its issues and concerns on its website and will be forwarding a copy to Pride Toronto’s board and staff.

Queer Ontario is committed to a future Pride that is both celebratory and political, and one that is respectful and inclusive of all LGBT-affirming interests. We are intent on neither disrupting the process or on dismantling Pride, but rather steadfastly committed to finding a mutually respectful way of engaging directly with Pride Toronto to work towards a successful and community-affirming Pride.

Queer Ontario is a provincially based network of individuals who are members of the gender and sexually diverse populations and their allies committed to liberationist and sex positive principles that focus on questioning, challenging and seeking reform to social norms and laws that regulate queer people. Queer Ontario engages in public education, political action, promoting access and diversity and coalition building.


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