A response to @chadandy on #PrideTO and the Mammoliti motion

Toronto City councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s motion to defund Pride Toronto (PT) as punishment for its decision to rescind its ban on the words “Israeli apartheid” in Toronto’s Pride parade passed at city council today after a vote of 36-1. But the…

Toronto City councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s motion to defund Pride Toronto (PT) as punishment for its decision to rescind its ban on the words “Israeli apartheid” in Toronto’s Pride parade passed at city council today after a vote of 36-1. But the motion was changed significantly before it came to a vote. ??

In response to this news, I tweeted:


I was compelled to respond to a question from @chadandy on Twitter:





Because I like and respect Chad, I thought I would put my thoughts down in a fuller form and invite him and others who share his feelings into a conversation.

My concern is not with the City’s right to enforce its policies, it is about Mammoliti’s motivations behind his original motion.

Clearly the City has every right, an obligation, to enforce its policies in all cases where the policy applies. This motion places particular scrutiny and extra pressure on Pride Toronto in its relationship with its diverse communities with a chilling “big brother is watching” message.

So why is this motion before Council in first place? Clearly, there are political motivations driving this scrutiny and we all know it. Mammoliti’s original motion would have retroactively punished Pride TorontoI – if anyone has the text of that original motion, I’d love to see it.

The politics surrounding the words “Israeli apartheid” are central here and we all know it. I question whether it is fair to put the City Manager into the awkward position of having to adjudicate those politics.

I’m sure Chad would recognize that as well. So lets talk about the real issue, those words.

The City’s “Declaration of a Non-discrimination Policy” for grant recipients states:

Declaration: On behalf of and with the authority of the organization named below, I hereby declare that this organization adopts and upholds the City of Toronto???s policy statement which prohibits discrimination and harassment and protects the right to be free of hate activity, based on age, ancestry, citizenship, creed (religion), colour, disability, ethnic origin, family status, gender identity, level of literacy, marital status, place of origin, membership in a union or staff association, political affiliation, race, receipt of public assistance, record of offences, sex, sexual orientation or any other personal characteristics by or within the organization.

So it appears to me, other than whatever normal compliance processes the City might apply to this policy, there should be a clear and transparent process to take up a complaint under this policy other than a Council motion.??My reading of this is that it really is up to someone to establish through some kind of evidence that there is a violation of this policy in a particular case.

Could somebody who believes that the words “Israeli apartheid” are hate speech or the activities of QUAIA qualify as discrimination or harassment “by or within the organization” of Pride Toronto according to this policy please explain their position for me? Chad? Someone from Kulanu Toronto perhaps?

Am I inviting a flame war in the comments? I hope not, because I’m genuinely interested in a real conversation that sheds more light on this contentious issue.

11 thoughts on “A response to @chadandy on #PrideTO and the Mammoliti motion”

  1. Thanks @shawnsyms for the comment and the link to Zahra Dhanani’s submission regarding QUAIA and #PrideTO. It’s excellent reading!

  2. The original motion was as follows:Councillor Mammoliti, seconded by Councillor Ford, recommends that: 1. City Council direct the City Clerk to advise the Pride organizers that the City of Toronto???s 2010 funding and support is revoked and is to be returned retroactively to the City because Pride did not invoke the City of Toronto???s anti-discriminating policies by allowing Queers Against Israel Apartheid to participate in this year???s Pride Parade. 2. The City of Toronto rejects any and all future applications from Pride for funding and support.

  3. This issue has been punted around the Pride Toronto board and Toronto City Council for a couple years now because of two opposing truths:a) the Israel lobby desperately wants QuAIA out of the paradeb) there is absolutely no legal basis to keep QuAIA out of the paradeSo, round and round we go :(It came to a head this year because Martin Gladstone found a champion in Mammoliti who (and I’m REALLY giving him the benefit of the doubt here) is not trying to defund Pride simply out of slavering hatred for it (as Xtra would posit) but because he gets to hit many targets with one arrow — scoring points with many in Toronto’s Jewish community, making mayoral race headlines as a crusader against "hate" and, yes, being seen as some kind of valve against moral excess from the gays.Watching Rossi, Ford, Smitherman and others gleefully joining in, however, has been most dispiriting.Going back to your main and very pertinent question though, how can we settle this? This weekend’s parade proved that QuAIA and Kulanu can coexist in the same venue, at least as uneasily as any other two politically disparate groups, and I’ve had a couple pro-Israel friends admit to me that QuAIA’s presence actually galvanized their community for the better.How can we make that kind of tolerance for dissent city policy?

  4. Thanks, Mark, for expanding on your thoughts. Let me just put out there that I am not agreeing with the City’s decision; I think the debate needs to happen, and I think far too many people are simply reacting without understanding the full impact of the many aspects of this/these issue(s). I disagree with you regarding the focus on Mammoliti’s motivations. We don’t know the motivations of the other councillors, all of whom voted to pass this motion, so I would say his motivations are irrelevant at this point.Whether or not you agree with Council’s position, the fact remains that our governments have resolutions condemning the use of the term "Israeli Apartheid". The actions of Council aren’t entirely unpredictable or surprising, given the already stated official view from all three layers of government, whether you or I agree or not, that it is an unacceptable and according to the province incites hatred against Israel. City Council and individual councillors have already made it clear that they see the term as discriminatory and as shutting down any real discussion or debate.If you want to change the current issue, my view is that you would need to address that issue first. The City needs to decide finally whether or not the term is officially considered discriminatory or hate-speech or not. If yes, then they are required to act on that. If no, then the rest of their position fails.

  5. Thanks Chad for the comment.I agree with you that it is important to get clarification from the City on whether or not the term "Israeli apartheid" breaches its non-discrimination policy. The lack of clarity and pushing the ball down the road a year serves no-one and only guarantees a replay of the divisiveness of this episode.Some of our politicians may have indeed "condemned" the use of the term. But they did not change the law around what is or is not hate speech. They also did not use the notwithstanding clause of the Charter to ban the use of the term. The only true test of this is in the courts, not in our bureaucracies or our legislatures.So why won’t somebody who has been harmed by hate speech make the case through our justice system? If these words are truly hate speech and anti-Semitism it is irresponsible to not prosecute those crimes. When will we see prosecutions?We won’t see prosecutions, because it is obvious that criticizing the policies of a sovereign state is protected democratic speech. It is not in any way hate.Obfuscating this point does a disservice to true hate crimes that happen on a regular basis against members of the Jewish and LGBT communities.

  6. This interesting document from QuAIA’s opponents indicates that they already know and understand that the phrase "Israeli apartheid" does not meet the legal definition of hate as cited in the Criminal Code (bottom of page 2). A court challenge would most certainly fail…which is why they’ve instead invoked the nebulous City of Toronto anti-discrimination guidelines.http://quaiatoronto.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/09-11-17-martin-gladstone-agenda-for-meeting-with-city1.pdf

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