Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tony Clement may not be 'folkophobic', but most of his Tory colleagues are definitely homophobic...

I don't buy Industry Minister Tony Clement's recent denial that LGBT tourism events were given "special scrutiny" after he pushed Diane Ablonczy aside and took over full control of his government's Marquee Tourism Events Program last June.

As you may recall, Ablonczy had committed the chief Tory sin of treating LGBT Canadians as full and equal citizens, worthy of government attention and a bit of funding (we do, after all, pay taxes). She gave Toronto Pride as much as $400,000 from the program and posed with local organizers for photographers at the funding announcement in June alongside a drag queen. Two weeks later, she lost control over the program.

This Canadian Press story outlines the facts quite well, including new information gleaned through Access To Information.

"This is to formally advise Minister Clement has revoked delegation of authority for the Marquee festivals program," Clement's chief of staff, Bill King, wrote to senior bureaucrats on June 29. "All files, projects, correspondence and communications are now to be managed, approved and signed off by Minister Clement instead of Minister Ablonczy."

Clement's spokesperson maintained at the time it was always envisioned that Clement would take the file over from Ablonczy after a prescribed period of time. But Industry Canada did not provide any documents through Access to Information that indicated the pre-planned transfer of responsibility. As Canadian Press reports, an 'official notice of revocation of authority is generally communicated through senior bureaucrats charged with a department's finances, rather than by a political staffer such as Clement's chief of staff.'

In early July, a Tory backbencher bragged to a conservative Christian propaganda site that protests from a "large majority" of Harper MPs about funding Toronto Pride led to Ablonczy's demotion.

Soon thereafter, Montreal's Divers-Cité gay cultural festival was told by bureaucrats it met all the criteria for funding under the program, but was rejected at the ministerial level.

"The fact of the matter is some of those programs got grants, others didn't," Clement said yesterday. "We didn't fund every folk festival. Calgary Folk Festival got funding, but Mariposa Folk Festival didn't. That's doesn't make me folkophobic."

True, but nobody from the Tory backbench bragged to an anti-folk music website about how the former minister was specifically removed because she had funded, God forbid, the Calgary Folk Festival.

But it's a matter of public record that there was an outcry of opposition in the Tory backrooms against the funding of Toronto Pride. A message had to be sent to the Conservatives' dinosaur base of supporters and punishment needed to be handed out. Ablonczy got the shaft.

We did the math, Tony. We know most of you Conservatives still hate us! Enough with your bullsh*t!

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