Conservatives reject funding for Montreal gay festival
Posted on July 22, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
A gay and lesbian arts festival that was told it met all government criteria under a new tourism stimulus program learned Tuesday it was rejected for funding.
The news arrived at Montreal’s Divers-Cite a few weeks after tension swept the Conservative caucus over funding for Toronto’s Pride week, and just days before the beginning of the event.
The directors of Montreal’s Divers-Cite had actually sprung to the defence of Stephen Harper’s government earlier this month, telling The Canadian Press that the Conservatives had never treated them differently. Some in the gay community attacked them for their comments.
They had submitted a bid under the new Marquee Tourism Events Program for $155,000 to add performers and promotion to this year’s $2-million event.
Government relations and marketing director Paul Girard said bureaucrats handling his file at Industry Canada told him his application met all the criteria, and had been sent up to Minister Tony Clement’s office for final approval.
When he phoned to check on the bid Tuesday, Mr. Girard says he was told by a senior bureaucrat that the $100-million program had received so many requests, the government simply had to make a choice.
“We knew that anybody that was to be refused and didn’t meet the criteria got a quick No,” Mr. Girard said. “As time advanced, we became more and more confident.”
Paul’s sister Suzanne, the festival’s director, says the organization was completely shocked by the response. Divers-Cite has received funding from Economic Development Canada for several years, as well as Canadian Heritage.
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