Anti-QuAIA complainants intimidated, B’nai Brith Canada steps in, files complaint
June 19, 2012 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
TORONTO – Pride Toronto’s dispute resolution process, created to address complaints about the participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) in the Pride Parade July 1, has been discredited after the complainants’ private information was published without their consent.
As a result, two complaints have been withdrawn but one complainant is determined to go forward.
He will not stand alone: B’nai Brith Canada has stepped in and filed its own complaint.
“It is unacceptable that people have been made to feel intimidated and afraid,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada. “It has become necessary for us to step in and represent our community by filing a complaint objecting to the Pride Parade being used to promote a ludicrous slander against the Jewish state.”
Kulanu Toronto was the first to drop out of the process. Justine Apple, the Jewish LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) group’s executive director, said her trust was shattered when she saw that Xtra’s website had published their complaint without redacting her, and another member’s, home addresses and phone numbers.
“I was in absolute shock and felt completely betrayed and angry,” said Apple. “It was a breach of my security and our trust. It really took me by surprise.”
Apple said she revisited the Pride website and found “no explanation of the word transparency and nothing about making anything public, especially private information.... If the committee had the legal right to make the document public they should have communicated that before the fact.”
Douglas Elliott, a lawyer who is the volunteer chair of the dispute resolution process, chalked it up to an “unfortunate misunderstanding” on the part of the complainants. He said he was following Pride’s rules as he understood them when he released Kulanu Toronto’s complaint to members of QuAIA and to two journalists who requested it.
“The complaint process is not private at all,” explained Elliott. “If you read our rules, it’s very clear that once I get a complaint, I’m required to send it to the respondent immediately.”
In fact, Pride Toronto’s website does not state that the actual complaint form, including any personal nformation provided by the complainant, will be sent to the respondent or the media. It merely states, “The Respondent will be immediately notified of the Complaint and the request for Mediation or Arbitration.”
The publication of private information has also caused Michael Orr, who filed as an individual, to withdraw from the process. In an email to Douglas Elliott, which Orr forwarded to the Tribune, Orr wrote that his complaint had been published on Xtra’s website without his knowledge or consent.
“Private citizens should not need to face a media circus in order to have the city live up to its responsibility to stop public funds being spent on an event, which can then be hijacked to promote distorted and objectionable views that stereotype others based on factors such as national origin,” Orr wrote.
Elliott said he sent complaints by Orr and Leon Kushner to QuAIA but not to the media. “They weren’t sent by me to Xtra,” said Elliott, “so if Xtra has them, they must have been provided by QuAIA.”
Leon Kushner, who also filed a complaint, said he was “irate and disgusted” when the Tribune told him that his form – including his private information – had been given to QuAIA and published online at Xtra’s website. He said there was nothing on the form that indicated his contact information would be given to anyone.
“That’s further proof of Pride’s incompetence,” said Kushner. “The process they put in place is obviously flawed.
“If that’s their way of intimidating people who complain about them, I can tell you it’s not going to work with me: I’m not going to stop.”