A surprising revelation has come forward in the weeks following the conclusion of Capital Pride 2013 regarding goings-on at the festival’s board. It seems that Capital Pride Chair Michael Lafontaine resigned his seat on the board late Sunday night, as festivities were wrapping up. This has been linked to a hitherto unknown censure of Mr. Lafontaine by the Capital Pride board that occurred on July 31 of this year. On the VS Live radio show Tuesday Sept 10, Tova Larson, a director on the Board, confirmed that Micheal Lafontaine had resigned, following up on the official statement issued on the 9th of September.
As a part of his censure, Lafontaine was instructed not to speak to media on behalf of Capital Pride. In prior videos taken by Velvet Studio during Pride, he is accompanied at media events by Brodie Fraser (VP Coms) in one instance and Jodie McNamara (VP Operations) in another. Fraser and McNamara had been acting as co-chairs of the Pride board in the interim.
As of Aug 1 2013, when VS joined Capital Pride as a media sponsor, these events were not shared publicly. Articles published on the Aug 1 and Aug 23 identify Lafontaine as the Chair, as does a Daily Xtra article dated Aug 3. Likewise, online information listed by Capital Pride identifies him as such.
Though Lafontaine’s official resignation letter is dated on Sept 10, it is backdated to Aug 25. Though there is apparently a resignation letter from the day-of, this has not been made public despite repeated requests. The official statement from Capital Pride, which preceded the official resignation, indicated that “Michael Lafontaine repeatedly made unilateral decisions on behalf of the organization without consulting the other members of the committee.” Lafontaine has been described as engaging in multiple instances of misconduct, and was allegedly given a warning as far back as July, following his unilateral decision to appoint a personal friend to a key board position, flouting the festival’s procedures. Other accusations include neglecting sponsors for months at a time, leading to potential losses for the festival. (Lafontaine also resigned as sponsorship coordinator, a role he had previously filled).
In addition, Lafontaine had allegedly given permission for the development of a mobile app for Capital Pride, without board approval. This app subsequently led to the release of sensitive information, and further damage to sponsor relations. Lafontaine had, according to the allegations, denied all awareness of the app at the time; subsequent investigation has shown that the web developer of the app was another personal friend of his, and was known to the Board as such. This last occurrence led to a censure of Lafontaine by the Capital Pride board on July 31.
During the parade itself (the most successful yet) the absence of the Capital Pride Chair was (according to CTV) noted by some in attendance. The revelation of Lafontaine’s resignation was indicated to Velvet Studio at the festival’s closing party, but remained unconfirmed until the release of his resignation letter on Sept 10. It is unclear why Lafontaine was not in attendance at the Pride parade.
Along with Lafontaine’s departure, Brodie Fraser has also indicated that he will not be returning to the Capital Pride board, thus leaving a number of open seats for community members interested in helping to run the festival for 2014. It is the hope of everyone involved that the community steps forward despite these mishaps, and is willing to provide leadership and accountability at what is clearly a challenging time for the festival. While there have been occasional discussions in the community around the possible usefulness of a paid staff in an Executive Director role (or other similar function), there is currently no indication that this will be the direction taken in 2014.
The Capital Pride Annual General Meeting (AGM) takes place on October 16th at 6:30pm, in the Colonel By Room at City Hall.
Editorial Note: VS is waiting on links to the Minutes for the two occasions mentioned above. They will be linked shortly.
Editorial Note: This article was corrected to reflect an accurate timeline.