I know Colleague Wherry has already posted about it, but honestly, it’s getting harder and harder not to see a possible connection between Rev. Charles McVety’s “Right The Course” campaign to stop federal funding for “sex parades” and stories like this:
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. […]
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 $100-million program had received so many requests, the government simply had to make a choice.
“We knew that anybody that was to be refused and didn’t meet the criteria got a quick No,” Mr. Girard said. “As time advanced, we became more and more confident.” […]
“We met all the criteria — this is a democracy,” Mr. Girard said. “They changed the rules as they went along.
“I feel like I’ve been had.”
Divers/Cite, of course, was one of two major Montreal-area LGBT events — what McVety would call “sex parades” — that were waiting anxiously by the phone following the furore that erupted after Conservative backbencher Brad Trost bragged to LifeSite News that the decision to fund the Toronto pride parade likely led to Diane Ablonczy being yanked off the marquee event file.
As it happens, ITQ actually dropped a note to the organizers of the other one — The Black & Blue Festival — just the other day to see if they’d heard anything about the fate of their application. Here’s what Robert Vezina had to say in response:
We asked for 125,000$ for the 2009 Black & Blue Festival taking place in October. Our request was sent several months ago. No answer yet. We need to know before the end of August in order to make the requested funding work for us, if we get it. We really need this new money this year because we are trying to attract more tourists by booking top-level international artists that cost a lot of money, and also because we need to further promote and upgrade our marketing overseas, but we have no money to do it. This new program is technically supposed to support such initiatives.
I have been told that some summer events now taking place have still not received any answer from Industry Canada. There seems to be an enormous backlog with the management of this new funding program by the civil servants. I have also been told that the person handling our file is on vacation..
In fact, in recent days, there has been a burst of MTEP-related announcements, including:
- $290,000 for the Atlantic Superstore Festival of Lights, some of which will go to a new program, “The Children’s Village”, which will draw “families and new audience members”
- $350,000 for the “family-friendly” Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair
- $1.5 million for Les Francofolies de Montreal that will, among other things, “increase family-oriented activities”
- $130,000 for the Red River Exhibition to “create and promote a new interactive theme area, called Prairie Town Adventures”, which “will cater to families with children 3 to 10 years of age and will feature such activities as a simulated fire rescue at the Prairie Town Rescue Station and an opportunity to be a farmhand and do chores at the Prairie Town Farm
Manitoba-bound families take note: Prairie Town Adventures is, in fact, already up and running — or at least, it was when the Red River Exhibition was underway last month. In fact, what’s interesting is that, with the exception of the Francofolies, which kicks off next week, all of the events listed above have already taken place; the money will go towards next year’s festivities.
Which would suggest — at least, if one were applying logic to the mysterious inner workings of the ministerial approval process — that the backlog mentioned by Vezina and others is so big that the government is being forced to pay the money forward to next year, thus partially defeating one of the main goals of the program, which was to boost tourism this summer.
That, or some lucky events are being pushed to the top of the official announcements to-do list ahead of others — like, say, Black & Blue, which takes place in October — perhaps out of fear that a certain sort of burlesque dancer might turn up on stage during the presentation.
ITQ’s suggestion to future applicants: Mention “families” as often as possible — and ixnay on the aygay ridepay thing. If you’re going to ask, don’t tell.
UPDATE: You’d think that Colleague Wells would be waltzing in the streets at the news that Ottawa’s very own Chamberfest will be getting $210,000 from the MTEP pot o’ cash. And yet, you’d be wrong. Just a warning: the word “asinine” is used, which is darned close to being family-unfriendly. Anyway, it seems that we may be coming closer to cracking the supersecret MTEP formula — your best chance of scoring a date with a local MP bearing an oversized novelty cheque is to be planning an event that starts within the next week or so, or some time in 2010 — with bonus points if it involves a Children’s Village!