Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Letter to Toronto City Council, re: Giorgio Mammoliti

Dear Councillors:

In light of Councillor Mammoliti's renewed calls for city de-funding of Pride Toronto, I want to make sure you are aware of his behaviour on Saturday.

Of course, Pride is a diverse and inclusive event. But I am dismayed that an elected representative of the city attended apparently with the sole purose of looking for evidence he could use to call for the withdrawal of city support for a festival which attracts millions of dollars in business and tax money for our cash-strapped city. And unlike those of you who attended the Pride Parade on Sunday, Councillor Mammoliti did not have the courtesy to express well wishes to the city's LGBTQ communities, even though he spent considerable time at Pride, before and during the Saturday march.

I felt it important to draw your attention to some video clips I took of the events; links are provided below. You can see in these clips that the contingent Councillor Mammoliti was following was entirely peaceful. His focus on the phrase "Israeli apartheid" is disingenuous, as you are aware that the city manager's report has not found any evidence of hatred or discrimination through the use of that phrase.

Video links

Peaceful march

Mammoliti stalking the Dyke March

Mammoliti desperately searching for hatred, and finding none

From the beginning of this controvesy, Councillor Mammoliti has demonstrated intent on holding Pride Toronto and certain LGBTQ groups to a different standard than others. This is clearly discriminatory behaviour on his part, and he should be held accountable.

The above was emailed to all on city council except for Mammoliti himself and both Fords. I received personal responses (not auto-responses) - some polite, others supportive - from councillors:
Mihevc, Grimes, Kelly, Vaughan, McConnell, Layton, Matlow, and Bailao.

Councillor Vaughan added this comment:
"It was interesting to watch the Toronto Police riding alongside of the march. If a so called 'hate crime' was being committed you'd have to wonder why the police stood by and did nothing."

The only sour note was a response from Councillor Del Grande. Referring to Mammoliti in the videos, he writes:
"Thank you for your e-mail.

He is on the side not interfering with the parade. He has not violated any law."

My response:

Councillor Del Grande:

You're right, Councillor Mammoliti has not violated any law. If you want to talk about the legal aspects of this controversy, the recent city manager's report stated that the use of the phrase "Israeli Apartheid" is not hate speech and is not discriminatory. The group that Councillor Mammoliti was targeting on Saturday is a group supporting LGBTQ Palestinians; they had every right to be in the march and did nothing wrong. They also had every right to free speech - which includes the right to utter the words "Israeli Apartheid". Councillor Mammoliti's support for pro-Israel groups and victimization of pro-Palestinian groups is discriminatory - as is Toronto City Council's decision to withhold funding from Pride Toronto until after the festivities were over (no other group which receives city funding is subject to this kind of treatment).

In your decisions regarding Pride Toronto, it is my hope that you will abide by the law and the city's own anti-discrimination policy when you represent all the residents of your ward - including those who identify as LGBTQ.

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