[ October 20, 2022, OTTAWA]

In response to a recent article highlighting Ottawa Mayoral candidate Mark Sutcliffe’s comments to eliminate funding to Capital Pride and other flagship festivals, today on Spirit Day 2022, Ottawa-based and national 2SLGBTQI+ organizations are calling for action and an apology from the Sutcliffe campaign. Despite the roughly 71,000 Ottawa residents who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, Mr. Sutcliffe has no commitments or references to equity, Pride or municipal LGBTQ issues in his entire platform

Mr. Sutcliffe’s comments comparing Ottawa’s world class Pride programming to “teenagers” looking for “handouts” is condescending and at odds with the facts. Beyond the significant economic activity Capital Pride generates for the local economy, this beloved institution advances human rights and inclusivity for everyone in our nation’s capital. Local festivals, including Capital Pride, generate over $222 million for the local economy and $122 million in tourism activity for Ottawa.

Cultural funding not only provides a higher return on investment for both tourism and boosting jobs in the cultural sector, but it also helps build safer, more caring communities for everyone. Mr. Sutcliffe’s past comments against funding queer arts programming and other cultural festivals put our creative industries and communities at risk” says Glenn Nuotio of the Qu’ART Ottawa Queer Arts Collective.

At a time when 2SLGBTQI+ hate crimes are on the rise, and new research shows that sexually and gender diverse youth are facing higher rates of bullying, misguided attacks on 2SLGBTQI+ organizations add fuel to the fire. Further cuts to the city’s local tourism programming would harm Ottawa’s diverse 2SLGBTQI+ and Francophone communities and the hundreds of small businesses who depend on them for increased traffic.

Pride parades are often the first place 2SLGBTQ+ youth go to safely celebrate and express their identities. In addition, they mark a time of reflection on the resistance 2SLGBTQ+ people have shown against discrimination, both historical and ongoing – including from elected decision-makers. Pride parades like Fierté Capital Pride are vital to bringing communities together, and their value to Ottawa should be respected” says Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah of the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. 

Now, a coalition of local 2SLGBTQ+ organizations including the Enchanté Network, the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity, the Pride Centre at the University of Ottawa, Qu’ART Ottawa Queer Arts Collective, Rainbow Ottawa Student Experience (ROSE) and No Conversion Canada are calling on Mr. Sutcliffe to apologize for his disrespectful and inaccurate remarks towards Fierté Capital Pride and urging him to commit to tangible policies to improve the lives of 2SLGBTQI+ Ottawans, including:

  • Increase Funding for 2SLGBTQ+ Community, Health, and Social Services
  • Create and fund a 2SLGBTQ+ Leadership Coalition
  • Fund Capacity Building for Community, Health, and Social Services
  • Enhance Pathways to Care and System Navigation
  • Improve Data Collection on 2SLGBTQ+ Communities
  • Pass and Implement a Local Bylaw Prohibiting Conversion Practices

On election day, Monday, October 24th, the coalition is encouraging residents to vote for candidates who support inclusive programming and will stand up for all communities. For more information about how and where to vote, please see the City of Ottawa website. 

“Every person deserves to be celebrated and to celebrate. No matter who we love or how we identify. Leadership in 2022 should not need that reminder. Pride festivals and 2SLGBTQI+ organisations change and save lives everyday – and we are so much stronger as a society because of their work.” – Tyler Boyce, The Enchanté Network

What our members are saying:

“Running on a platform of “survival of the fittest” is no way to build an inclusive and resilient community for everyday people. In the midst of several crises and increased attacks on 2SLGBTQ+ people, cutting funding to our city’s diverse festivals is bad policy that could embolden those who engage in hate. Our communities and our local economy deserve better.” – Nick Schiavo, No Conversion Canada

“Pride must be preserved in our time, because our society is still one where it’s radical for queer people to just be themselves.” / “À notre époque, il faut préserver la Fierté dans la Capitale, car dans notre société il est toujours radical qu’une personne queer soit authentique à soi-même.” – Phoebe Qiao, The Pride Centre at the University of Ottawa

“It’s so disappointing & insulting for any hopeful leader to fuel intolerance against cultural workers, while also being uneducated on how Ottawa’s cultural funding decisions actually work. Ottawa’s already underfunded cultural sector can’t go backwards now, nor can we take a chance on anyone new in sheep’s clothing” – Glenn Nuotio, Qu’ART Ottawa Queer Arts Collective

Media Contact & Signatories

Jyssika Russell
Manager of Public Affairs and Communications, The Enchanté Network
E: jyssika@enchantenetwork.ca
P: Email for phone number

The Enchanté Network
Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
The Pride Centre at the University of Ottawa
Qu’ART Ottawa Queer Arts Collective
Rainbow Ottawa Student Experience (ROSE)
No Conversion Canada
Pride at Work Canada