Thursday, September 10, 2009

Will the Harper Conservatives fund a global pride event?

You'll recall there was quite the brouhaha back in July when Conservative minister Diane Ablonczy approved nearly $400,000 in funding from the Marquee Tourism Events Program for Toronto's Pride Parade, and had the temerity to have her photo taken with drag queens.

There was quite the blowback from the nutter, socially-Conservative wing of the party, including the always entertaining Charles McVety and a backbencher not heard from before or since, Brad Trost.

The Conservatives went so far as to remove responsibility for the program from Ablonczy and give it to Tony Clement, while maintaining with a wink it had nothing to do with the pride funding, because it's not like there's anything wrong with that. And when Clement later denied a Montreal parade it was totally nothing to do with that at all.

Well, the issue may be coming back. For in 2014, the Toronto Pride organizers want to go global, and they'll need federal help to do it:

Yesterday, Pride Toronto announced its bid to host World Pride in 2014.

Toronto's Pride Week is already one of the biggest such events worldwide, but in 2014 organizers would like to "kick it up a few notches," said Mark Singh, chair of the bid committee and current co-chair of Pride Toronto.

"Basically, we're just making our event, which is already such a globally popular event, into something a lot bigger and on the world's stage."

Toronto's pitch will be made at October's InterPride annual general meeting in St. Petersburg, Fla. Singh said he believes Stockholm is the only competition.

The event would fall during the regular Pride week in 2014 but would be substantially bigger and more expensive, costing an estimated $10 million rather than the $4 million spent this year.
The Marquee program is supposed to be all about generating economic impact, and a global pride event will certaintly qualify:
The economic payoff could be big. Toronto's three-day gay and lesbian festival in June attracted 1.3 million people, and organizers say it generated $100 million in business. World Pride would include a human rights conference and opening ceremonies at a large venue, such as the Rogers Centre, possibly with an Olympics-style flag parade.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has already submitted a letter of support for the Toronto bid.

So, what say you Tony Clement and Stephen Harper? Can Toronto Pride count on your support?

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