"Israeli Apartheid" Doesn't Violate City's Anti-Discrimination Policy
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“Israeli Apartheid” Doesn’t Violate City’s Anti-Discrimination Policy

Photo of Pride 2008 by Sweet One from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.

City staff have determined that the phrase ‘Israeli Apartheid’ in and of itself does not violate the City’s Anti-discrimination policy as it does not impede the provision of services and employment provided directly by Pride or the City to any group on any grounds provided for in the Policy. The City staff has carefully reviewed the matter of whether the participation of QUAIA [Queers Against Israeli Apartheid] violates the City’s Anti-Discrimination Policy. To date, the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” has not been found to violate either the Criminal Code or the Human Rights Code (Ontario).

This, taken from a report released this morning [PDF], just made Pride Toronto’s quest for ongoing funding from the City a bit easier. Mayor Ford and many other councillors have been making noise about pulling funding from Pride if the organization allowed QuAIA to march again this year, on the grounds that it would be promoting hate speech. That particular line of attack is now largely toothless—though of course Ford may continue to argue that even if the terminology doesn’t violate the letter of any existing policy or legal code, it is morally questionable or inappropriate.

More likely, in the current cost-cutting climate at City Hall, any cuts to Pride’s funding will now be justified on more directly fiscal grounds. Last year the City gave just over $120,000 to Pride, and during last year’s election campaign Ford repeatedly said that under his administration the City may no longer fund festivals in the manner or to the extent that it has in recent years. (Caribana was the other major festival for mentioned most often, as an example of a festival that may see some changes.) On the campaign trail Ford’s mantra was “we fund all of them or we fund none of them”—the implication being that since the City only grants money to some festivals right now, out of equity it should simply cease funding them all.
The staff report will be discussed by the City’s Executive Committee at its April 20 meeting; the City’s funding for Pride this year has not yet been decided. Meanwhile, the Globe is reporting that: “A study of the 2009 Pride Festival found that it generated over $90-million and 600 full-time jobs for the city.” This, on top of an unquantifiable contribution to Toronto’s culture, will ensure that any proposed cuts to Pride would be one of the bitterest fights at City Hall yet.
UPDATE, April 13, 2:20 PM: Speaking to reporters shortly after the report’s release, councillor Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre) rejected the staff report’s conclusions, stating he’d oppose funding for Pride if QuAIA were allowed to march this here. “If they want to go out and have a good time and celebrate their gayness, that’s up to them,” he said, and then going on: “But when they’re using that money to make some political points and to put people down, we’re not into putting our money up for that, as far as I’m concerned.”