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Friday, May 07, 2010

Toronto's Gay Pride Festival Has Been Denied Federal Funds!

"Organizers of Toronto's gay pride festival were surprised and angry Friday at the Conservative government's decision to drop the lucrative and popular event from its tourism stimulus package. Pride Toronto was not on the list of over 50 festivals awarded grants on Friday as part of the federal government's two-year, $100-million Marquee Tourism program," reports the CBC. Pride Toronto executive director Tracey Sandilands called the decision a "clear indication that the federal government doesn't believe that queer arts and culture is worth investment in." READ MORE

Toronto's Pride Week attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. Hundreds of thousands more either turn out or tune in on television to watch the free-wheeling parade that is the week's centrepiece. Pride Toronto officials said last summer's Pride Week contributed more than $100 million to the province's economy.

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The Harper government is being labelled homophobic for refusing to fund Toronto’s gay pride festival this year
The festival received $400,000 last year from the Marquee Tourism Events Program but it won’t get a nickel this year.

Industry Minister Tony Clement insisted Friday the decision has nothing to do with anti-gay sentiment among some members of the ruling Conservative caucus.

Rather, he said the government decided to fund fewer events in major cities this year so it can spread the money around more equitably to smaller centres.

But festival organizers and opposition critics maintained homophobia was behind the decision. And they claimed exclusion of the pride festival is part of a pattern that suggests hard-right, social conservatives are now in charge of the government.

The decision not to fund the festival comes on the heels of recent funding cuts to women’s groups and the government’s refusal to fund abortion as part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s G8 maternal health initiative.

“This is again another example, in my opinion, of a reckless, ideological cut from a Conservative government which actually has a history of attacking gay rights,” said Liberal tourism critic Navdeep Bains.
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