By Patrick B. Craine

MONTREAL, Quebec, July 22, 2009 ( – Montreal's gay festival, Divers/Cité, has been denied a grant under the Conservatives new tourism stimulus program, a decision that is being connected to the harsh criticism levied by concerned citizens against the Tory government last month over its nearly $400,000 grant to the Toronto Pride festival.

The Montreal festival promotes homosexuality through art and music, advertising lewd drama and drag queen performances, and is scheduled this year for July 26 – August 2.  The organizers of the $2 million event applied to Industry Canada for a $155,000 grant under the new $100 million Marquee Tourism Events Program, which was to be put towards performers and promotion.

The event's Director of Government Relations and Marketing Paul Girard said that he had been told by Industry Canada that they had met all the criteria for the grant, and that their application had been sent up to Industry Minister Tony Clement for his final approval.

Clement took over the tourism file about two weeks ago from junior minister Diane Ablonczy following her decision to fund the Toronto Pride event. 

Shortly after news of the Toronto Pride grant broke, Conservative Saskatoon MP Brad Trost had created a stir when he expressed his disappointment over the decision to LSN and indicated that the gay pride funding was not supported by a majority of the Tory caucus.  He hinted, further, that Ablonczy had lost the file over the matter, though the government has claimed there is no connection between Ablonczy's funding decision and the file transfer.

Disappointed with the government's decision in his case, Mr. Girard commented, “We knew that anybody that was to be refused and didn't meet the criteria got a quick No. … As time advanced, we became more and more confident.”

But when Girard phoned on Tuesday, days before the beginning of their event, he was told by a government official that there had been so many requests for funding that they had to make a choice.

The festival's director, Suzanne Girard, Paul's sister, said they were completely shocked by the government's denial.  Two weeks ago, following the criticism over the Conservatives funding Toronto Pride, Girard had defended them, indicating that their government funding had been more stable under the Conservatives than under the Liberals.  At the time, she said, “Personally as an organization, we have been treated very fairly and on an even footing with everybody else.”

But now she says she feels betrayed.  “We met all the criteria—this is a democracy,” said Girard. “They changed the rules as they went along. I feel like I've been had.”

The Montreal festival has been funded by the government for years.  In 2004 alone, they received half a million dollars from various municipal, provincial, and federal government programs.

The shock of the Montreal event's organizers may be understandable, not only given their history of government support, however, but based on the Conservatives history of funding homosexual initiatives.  On July 9th, The National Post's David Akin revealed that since taking power in 2006, the Tories have funded numerous homosexual activities.

Campaign Life Coalition's Mary Ellen Douglas said she is pleased with the government's decision in this case.  “I think it's good news that the Conservative government has taken a stand against funding the Montreal festival,” she told LSN.  “These events always seem to have alternate funding, and it's not justified to spend taxpayer's money on these festivals.”

“It appears that the portfolio is now in more experienced hands,” she said.

See related coverage:

Montreal Homosexual Pride Event Cost Taxpayers Over Half a Million 

Canada's Federal “Conservatives” Give $400K to Toronto Gay Pride Week

Canadian Conservative MP: Party Funding of Gay Pride Parade Came as a Shock to Most of Caucus 

REAL Women Speaks Out Against $400K to Toronto Pride, in Wake of Further Reports of Homosexual Funding 


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