T.O. Pride organizers respond to federal cuts
Published Saturday, May 8, 2010 7:31PM EDT
Organizers of Toronto's Pride festival say they are "very disappointed" by Ottawa's decision to cut off funding to the annual party.
Last year, the fest received about $400,000 in funding from Ottawa. This year, organizers hoped to get about $600,000 of federal funding.
Pride organizers said the funding was to be used to improve tourism promotions.
Some government critics, like Toronto Coun. Kyle Rae, said that the decision reflects a homophobic attitude.
But Industry Minister Tony Clement told CTV Toronto on Saturday that the decision was based on an effort to fund newer events in smaller cities.
"I think that's better in terms of our tourism strategy for the entire country," Clement said during a telephone interview.
"It was nothing in particular about Pride or any of the other events that go on in Toronto. We were simply trying to spread the money around to other centres as well."
The government says that fests like Luminato and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair will get a boost this year.
However, Pride organizers believe that the decision was based on a political kerfuffle which occurred last year, when Tourism Minister Diane Ablonczy posed with some drag queens.
Not long after that photo went public, Ablonczy was striped of the file and Clement took it over.
Tracey Sandilands, Pride's executive director, said Saturday that organizers are "very disappointed" by the cuts.
But she said the news wasn't a huge shock.
"I'm certain that the drama of last year must have had some bearing on the fact that we didn't get the funding," Sandilands said.
For local business operator David Bervas, funding Pride should be a natural decision for the government.
"The amount of people that come to Toronto because of Pride -- and what it does to the economy -- it's huge"
With a report from CTV's Natalie Johnson