News / Ottawa

Bankrupt Capital Pride means event up for grabs after final AGM

Two groups are vying to take over the beleaguered Capital Pride festival, after the organization officially dissolves on Wednesday night.

The group’s last annual general meeting is likely to be a heated one, as board members will face tough questions on the organization’s bankruptcy, alleged accounting irregularities and the future of the festival that’s due to celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

Current chair Jodie McNamara has already been facing criticisms online about creating a “secret committee” to take over Capital Pride. But she maintains that’s not the case – her group has simply not publicized it. According to a post on her Facebook wall, she has about 20 people in her group from about 14 different LGBTQ groups.

Whatever happens, the Capital Pride membership of 100 people will be asked to help decide the festival’s fate at the AGM with a vote on which proposed successor the comunity should go with said McNamara. Although she conceded that the vote would not be binding and anyone could throw a pride festival, such a festival would be meaningless without buy in from the community.

“The movement remains,” she told Metro, “and the legitimacy of who represents that movement remains with the community.”

A Daily Xtra story said McNamara’s pulling together a committee was a conflict of interest, but McNamara told Metro she was in a “unique position.”

“No one else was doing it, so I did it,” she said. “I didn’t do it as chair of Capital Pride. I did it as a community member and the organization had nothing to do with it.”

McNamara also reportedly told Daily Xtra that Capital Pride has a “significant offer” from a potential sponsor, which would help pay for the parade and a fair.

Another group hoping to take over Capital Pride is being led by Francois Zarraga, who said he has “had enough” of the current organization.

While he said the alleged financial irregularities are the key problems plaguing Capital Pride, he also takes issue with the group’s failure to include Gatineau. He would not give details on his plans, but said he envisions Pride on both sides of the river, complete with a full French translation. His group – which he said has just three members, but is growing – has been in the works for about a year.

“We cannot have the same people in the committee ever again,” he said in a Facebook message.

Capital Pride declared bankruptcy in October following allegations of financial irregularities and cheques bouncing.

Event producer Sebastien Provost said a $23,700 cheque for alcohol bounced. Guillaume Tassé, who supplied portable washrooms, lighting and sound systems, among other items said he was still waiting for a $42,000 cheque at the time the group declared bankruptcy.

The Capital Pride AGM will be on Wednesday at City Hall starting at 6 p.m. It’s open to the public.

In a notice about the AGM, McNamara said the Capital Pride board of directors would not take questions from the floor about bankruptcy, for legal reasons. However, there will be a report and a lawyer available to answer general questions.

– With files from Sean McKibbon

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