Mammoliti jumps into Pride parade debate
Given his 3 per cent support in the recent Star-Angus Reid poll, it's not a bad strategy -- he has nowhere to go but up. (Mammoliti told the Star when the poll was released that his own internal polling puts him at 10 per cent and that his biggest job now is to build his name recognition.)
On Sunday, it was his proposal to have some bylaw officers carry guns into the war on graffiti. For some reason, few think that is a good idea.
On Tuesday, he jumped feet-first into the touchy debate over a senior Toronto manager warning Pride Toronto it may lose its 2011 city funding if activist group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is allowed to march in this summer's Pride parade.
As the Star's Daniel Dale wrote last week, Mike Williams, general manager of economic development and culture, sent Pride Toronto the warning based on complaints from people who feel discomfort at the phrase "Israeli apartheid"; reports of QAIA marchers using offensive chants (there's disagreement over the words said) and a marcher (not a QAIA member, the group says) sporting a crossed-out swastika on his shirt.
QAIA says its message -- criticism of Israeli's treatment of Palestinians -- is in no way hateful or discriminatory. The member interviewed by Dale said she is Jewish and a "big Jew-lover" whose religion taught her to stand up for what's right.
To many, there are shades of grey there, with entwined issues of human rights, discrimination, free speech, promotion of hatred and the motivations of those who use the hot-button language of racist South Africa to describe Israel's conduct.
To Mammoliti, there is no grey at all. In a news release issued Tuesday, he said there is no room for "discriminatory hate-filled activism" at Pride. He gave its leaders 24 hours to say QAIA is not welcome in the June parade.
Otherwise, he'll make a motion at the next council meeting that the city "immediately revoke all City of Toronto funding, services, licenses, and entitlements of the Gay Pride parade." In threatening to yank 2010 funding, Mammoliti has gone further than the city.
The councillor apparently doesn't mind that his entrance into the debate will cause some to point to a 1994 diatribe he made at Queen's Park when he was an NDP MPP. Given his campaign so far, he might welcome the attention.
So what to make of a candidate who has promised a red-light district and a casino for Toronto, that senior citizens with a household income of less than $65,000 won't pay property taxes, that the Gardiner Expressway will come down, that bylaw officers will be armed and that grants can be pulled if his arbitrary 24-hour deadline is not met?
It's tough to say. If Mammoliti wasn't a councillor, his popular support and out-there platform would push him to the mayoral fringe. And if there is one Torontonian to whom all those policies appeal, I would like to meet them.