Who know knew what, and when
Over the past couple months, following Capital Pride’s record breaking festival, there has been media attention directed at the near bankruptcy of Capital Pride. Provisionally saved at the last moment by the membership due to a technicality of the bankruptcy process, Pride appears to have a future despite this early announcement. That even many of the membership were confused over the nature of the bankruptcy is no surprise, given the complex sequence of events, and surely anyone would be forgiven for loosing track of who knew what and when.
The Velvet Studio hopes to outline, to the best of our ability, the breakdown of the sequence of events, the availability of information, and who knew of what and when, to help better understand why the decision to declare bankruptcy unfolded as it did.
August 15th to 24th 2014
August 18th – Events planner Sebastien Provost provides treasurer Giselle Gardipy with an updated spreadsheet outlining his expenses. He alleges it fell within the approved budget.
Capital Pride breaks previous records with an attendance of 110,000 people along the Parade route, easily beating the previous record of 75,000,. Making Pride one of the top attended festivals in Ottawa.
During the festival, there was no indication of irregularities in need of scrutiny, with the coverage being generally positive.
August 22nd – Unaware yet that bar operations needed a backdraft of nearly $24,000 for alcohol, Capital Pride was faced with a problem as their bank was closed at this time. Capital Pride provided a cheque to Provost who had offered to get a bank draft for that purpose.
In an interview with the Velvet Studio on Saturday the 23rd Stephanie Lavergne, the Assistant Treasurer, and Director of the Week’s Events, said “Everything is going kind of according to plan, and everyone is having a great time and we are really happy with all the numbers”
August 25th 2014 (Monday)
A meeting between infrastructure contractor Guillaume Tasse (stage, toilets, tents) and Treasurer Giselle Gardipy was cancelled. Tasse claims he was owed $42,000 and had not been provided payment or and explanation by Capital Pride. Tasse had also additionally provided Capital Pride with a $10,000 sponsorship.
August 26th (Tuesday)
The last time that Provost spoke with Treasurer Gardipy. Contractors were informed that Gardipy was in hospital.
August 27th (Wednesday)
After having deposited a cheque from Capital Pride of nearly $24,000 to cover the festival’s alcohol purchase, Provost , discovers that his account is overdrawn by $15,000, . indicating the original cheque had not cleared.
August 29th (Friday)
Capital Pride releases media release
“However, at this time, Capital Pride is currently investigating accounting irregularities that have come to light upon review of its post-festival finances. A police investigation may be pending.
September 4th (Thursday)
The Ottawa Citizen: “Capital Pride investigating ‘Accounting Irregularities’
Two suppliers and a DJ reveal that their cheques bounced from Capital Pride, and they are still owed.
September 5th (Friday)
Capital Pride releases a statement
“Capital Pride is working with its experts to assess documentation surrounding the alleged accounting irregularities that came to light upon a post-festival review. We are taking this time to thoroughly examine the materials prior to presenting them to our stakeholders, the Ottawa–Gatineau LGBT community and our allies.
As always, Capital Pride will exercise due diligence to this matter.
Capital Pride would once again like to thank all those who made the 2014 Capital Pride Festival a success. We will provide details surrounding this situation as they emerge. We appreciate your patience and cooperation.”
The Ottawa Citizen: ‘Capital Pride working with experts to sort our finances’
The Arc Hotel and TD Bank both reveal that they are not owed money from Capital Pride.
September 8th (Monday)
Povost and Tasse state they have contacted the Ottawa Police Service.
Festival Director Jodie MacNamara confirms there will be a press release on the 9th.
September 9th (Tuesday)
Without citing reasons or rescheduling, Capital Pride cancels the planned press release.
Capital Pride releases a statement, in which they thank the community before stating that they are working with experts to gather information related to the emerging situation, stating “Currently our examination centers on invoices from festival site and entertainment providers requesting payments for amounts that were not approved by the Capital Pride Board of Directors. The initial results indicate that House of SAS, through its principal Sebastien Provost, significantly exceeded the agreed-upon budget.” They noted that no sponsorship or donor funds had been implicated.
The Ottawa Citizen: Capital Pride, supplier clash over spending allegations’
The Citizen interviews Provost: “I have no idea what they are talking about,” said Provost, himself a one-time chair of Capital Pride, and long-time bar owner and promoter in Ottawa. “My records indicate I was within the approved budget that was allocated to me.” He goes on to note that he had no signing authority.
Allegra Printing allege they are owed $8,500 by the festival, DJ Stephan Grondin alleged a cheque had bounced, and Producer Entertainment, which represents RuPaul’s Drag Race, also allege they were owed a significant amount. Producer Entertainment stated that the cheque has been sent for collection by their bank.
CBC revealed in an interview one of the suppliers, Tasse “A $40,000 budget was agreed to by Capital Pride before the festival took place, Tasse said, and a second, smaller invoice for things the festival forgot to request was agreed to by the site manager. It was about $1,200, Tasse said. He was originally promised 50 per cent of the $40,000 budget before the festival took place, but was later told by Capital Pride that they could only offer 25 per cent up front, Tasse said.
September 10th (Wednesday)
Xtra! interviewed Provost, who revealed more details;
“’When I went to their bank, the Bank of Montreal, to try to have my cheque certified, I was told by the branch that there was actually never any money in the account, that those cheques were knowingly written without funds. And that is when I proceeded to go to the police and press charges,’ he says.”
Xtra! Also revealed that in a discussion between MacNamara and Tasse, MacNamara objected to a $3,000 LED wall used on the stage, stating it was not board approved. When Tasse offered to drop the invoice to $39,000 and separately discuss the LED wall, he was told ‘No Comment’ by MacNamara who then dropped communication with Tasse.
The Daily Xtra! also revealed that the Ottawa Police had begun investigating. Separately, it was stated that Producer Entertainment had informed Xtra! that its legal team were looking at all options.
September 11th (Thursday)
Capital Pride reaches out to Daily Xtra! for an exclusive interview.
Provost refuses an Xtra! interview, stating he had begun legal action. It is later reported that Provost specifically took legal steps against Capital Pride.
September 12th (Friday)
In an exclusive interview with Xtra!; “’The cheques were returned NSF because right after the festival we found a preliminary, apparent shortfall [of bar revenue] that added up to tens of thousands of dollars,’ says Jodie McNamara, chair of Capital Pride.”
Xtra! further reveals that “’Suppliers have come forward saying they have agreements with Capital Pride when those agreements were never reviewed by Capital Pride,’ [MacNamara] says. ‘We have received invoices for at least $23,000 over the budget we approved to House of SAS for the entertainment on site.’” MacNamara refused to reveal to Xtra! The names of the unapproved invoices.
MacNamara stated to Xtra! that they plan on speaking individually to each of the contractors. When asked if they were able to pay contractors she stated “we have funds.”
September 22nd (Monday)
In a letter to Allegra Printing, MacNamara informed them that they planned to pay the $8,569.07 it owed for signs and other printing.
October 6th (Monday)
Capital Pride hosts a Public Consultation Meeting to review Pride Events. The Velvet Studio was informed by the Secretary that nothing related to the finances will be discussed. The AGM is announced for November 5th.
October 10th (Friday)
Jodie MacNamara, while working as the Chair of Capital Pride, begins to reach out to community members to create a new organization to replace Capital Pride. The public is not officially made aware.
October 15th (Wednesday)
Daily Xtra!: ‘Capital Pride faces legal threat’
Xtra! revealed that, following Capital Pride’s Sept 9th media release, Sebastien Provost filed for libel against the Capital Pride Board of Directors. Xtra! notes “Jodie McNamara, chair of Capital Pride, confirms they’ve received Provost’s notice of intent to sue for libel… ‘The notice requested a retraction, and everything we said was true, so we will not be making a retraction,’”
In the article Provost alleges that MacNamara refused to meet with him and the bar staff prior to releasing the statement on the 9th. He goes on to say “’The damage to my career has been so profound,’ he alleges. ‘I’m not even sure I’ll be able to recover from it. My credibility to book artists right now is shot. My company’s name has been all over the press embroiled in criminality that Capital Pride has alleged, without even meeting with me, without ever discussing it with me.’”
In the article, Provost outlines three possible causes for the drop in revenue: first being a broken beer fridge, with six taps broken leaving them with a single unit with two taps; the second issue was a bar mix order which Capital Pride, he alleged, delayed through error in till Sunday evening, leaving them without soft drinks and mix in till 5pm; the third issue being the claim that Pride had handed out 235 free passes to the VIP area which included an open bar.
October 20th (Monday)
Capital Pride releases a statement on their Facebook.
“It is with extreme sadness and regret that Capital Pride must inform its membership, stakeholders and community, that after 29 years of operation, the Board of Directors has found itself in a financial situation beyond its ability to alter or repair and is now forced to declare bankruptcy.
The Board of Directors has been working very hard for the last two months to find a viable solution to enable Capital Pride to continue its operations for the sake of the Pride movement, the LGBTQ community and Ottawa residents, but with no success. Operations are now clearly unsustainable.
Capital Pride has had the privilege of working with many dedicated and supportive volunteers, organizations and individuals who worked exhausting hours in order to see the vision of Pride movement be elevated in Ottawa and we have seen some great moments throughout our history.
The AGM will happen as scheduled on November 5th. An email will be sent to our stakeholders shortly with a revised agenda so that everyone will know what to expect from that meeting. Much of the focus will be on the future of the Pride movement in Ottawa, going into it’s 30th year and beyond.”
Daily Xtra!: ‘Capital Pride declares bankruptcy’
CBC reveals that the Ottawa Police fraud unit investigators have opened a file on the financial issues at Capital Pride.
The Ottawa Citizen: ‘Capital Pride declares bankruptcy as suppliers fume’
The Ottawa Citizen revealed that Provost had been paid back the $24,000 from the liquor purchase. It was noted that Allegra Printing, who was owed $8,569, had not been paid. In a interview with the Citizen, Provost revealed he was out almost $7,000 in legal fees.
October 21st (Tuesday)
The Ottawa Citizen: ‘Pride will go on despite bankruptcy, gay community says’
Provost reveals he is planning an ‘international’ festival for Ottawa next year. Stating that Capital Pride had lost all credibility.
October 30th (Thursday)
While acting as Chair of Capital Pride, MacNamara reaches out to community members to form a new organization with the intent of replacing Capital Pride.
November 1st (Saturday)
Reacting to leaks of a ‘secret committee’, members of the community reacts angrily to allegations, by individuals named in the proposal,, that someone [revealed to be McNamara] within Capital Pride is planning a secret committee to replace Capital Pride.
November 2nd (Sunday)
Jodie MacNamara, in a Facebook post, refutes that the Capital Pride replacement committee is secret.
November 4th (Tuesday)
In an interview with MacNamara, she states “’This committee has nothing to do with Capital Pride or the current Board of Directors,’ McNamara continued. ‘I have assembled the committee as a community member, not as the chair of Capital Pride. As a representative of Capital Pride I have provided infrastructure and the hands-on support necessary for the collaboration, but neither I nor Capital Pride have been in anyway [sic] involved in their conversation.’ […] McNamara said the new committee involves nearly 20 people, representing 14 organizations, sponsors and community members who have collaborated on a list of recommendations to take the Pride festival into its 30th year.”
November 5th (Wednesday)
The Velvet Studio: ‘Pride Chair organizes ‘Secret’ Committee ahead of AGM’
The Velvet Studio releases a number of interviews from members contacted by MacNamara which indicate that she began planning as early as October 10th, and was acting as if representing Pride as late as October 30th. The Velvet Studio also revealed that several members of the Launch Committee had withdrawn prior to the 4th, issuing concerns with the “lack of transparency”.
Capital Pride holds AGM at City Hall
The Ottawa Citizen: ‘Capital Pride pulls back from Bankruptcy filing in surprise move’
The Ottawa Citizen, reporting from the Annual General Meeting (AGM), revealed that, despite a debt of $89,000, the membership of Capital Pride had voted to postpone filing for bankruptcy for 45 days, and called for the mass resignation of the Board, leading to the creation of an interim board. The Citizen noted “According to the organization’s financial statements, made available Wednesday, it took in $341,907 in revenue in its 2013-214 festival year, but spent about $430,917, leaving it with a loss of about $89,000. […] Often on the brink of tears, McNamara offered her and the board’s apologies. ‘Nobody is claiming nothing went wrong, that we didn’t make serious mistakes,’ she said. ‘I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart for a job done poorly.’”
The CBC revealed that the meeting, which held around 200 people, was originally slated to hear the two proposals, one from the launch committee and one from another alternative. However, the agenda changed when it became apparent that Capital Pride had not yet successfully filed for bankruptcy. CBC noted that the board refused to answer questions related to finances, and also refused to speak to the media.
All in a Day, a daily CBC radio broadcast, reports that Launch Committee spokesperson Doyle noted there had been concerns raised in the community as it had been organized by MacNamara. A separate Pride reformation group lead by Gatineau Pride co-president Zarraga noted his proposal was not in anyway related to the current Pride board.
The Ottawa Sun: ‘Capital Pride cleans house’
The Ottawa Sun noted that, when it became apparent the papers had not been filed, the membership moved to dismiss the 7 member board and replace them with an interim Board.
November 6th (Thursday)
Daily Xtra!: ‘AGM delays Capital Pride bankruptcy’
Following the AGM, Xtra! spoke with former Pride Chair Marion Steele “’I was annoyed, partly because [a debt of $89,000] is not enough to claim a bankruptcy over,’ Steele said. ‘We came in in 2004 with a $200,000 debt, and we did not declare bankruptcy. We held creditors’ meetings. We held fundraisers. We were out of debt in three and a half years. So, it’s doable and you don’t have to lose your branding.’”
Xtra! also interviewed MacNamara; “’It’s felt like being on a ship that’s sinking and there’s nothing you can do to stop it,’ McNamara said tearfully to reporters after the meeting. ‘But maybe there is.’”
The Velvet Studio: ‘Capital Pride saved in M. Night Shyamala Plot Twist’
The Velvet Studio revealed the names of the four Directors who resigned, as well as the names of those on the Interim board. The Velvet Studio also spoke with Interim Director Kevin Hatt, saying; “I just couldn’t see Pride disintegrate, and I will do anything I can to get it through this rough patch”. He noted that the delay until December “… will give [us] the time to get our ducks in order”, and also that “It’s hard to say right now what steps will be taken, but proper steps need to be taken before an AGM can be called, we should have our finance statements, preferably audited, at least correct”.
As an editorial note; the Velvet Studio added that the Directors were forced to resign in order to make room for the interim board, and also noted that at least two of the candidates of the Launch Committee, previously organized by MacNamara while acting as Pride Chair, had withdrawn their candidacy upon learning that Pride was not bankrupt.
November 7th (Thursday)
The Ottawa Citizen: ‘Capital Pride called police over missing bar revenue, ticket account changes: chair’
The Citizen reported that Capital Pride had filed a police report that someone had changed the online ticketing information to a different account. It was spotted prior to the almost $10,000 in the account was effected. She is also quoted saying “’We bought X amount of alcohol and then after the festival X amount of alcohol was left over. And the value of the alcohol that was gone, if it was sold at the prices we were selling it at, was $45,000 more than was actually brought in and deposited,’ said McNamara.”
November 8th (Friday)
In an interview within days after leaving Pride, MacNamara is quoted as saying “’I didn’t insist on the kind of oversight that obviously was needed. I trusted that it would just happen. I’m as much to blame for that as anybody else,’ she said[….]’We don’t know what happened at the bar. But we have filed a police report so we’re hoping that they will be able to investigate,’ McNamara said. ‘We have no idea. We don’t know.’”