Tuesday, June 24, 2014

bonus features: proclaiming pride


This post offers supplementary material for an article I wrote for Torontoist, which you should read before diving into this piece.

Source: Toronto Star, November 1, 1978.
On my computer reside plenty of files I'm stumbled upon in the midst of research which I figure may be useful someday, no matter how absurd they are. Prime example: Art Eggleton dressed as a pickle. Based on the highlighting on the PDF copy of the original page, I discovered this gem while working on a Hallowe'en post. The original caption read as follows:
No sourpuss: Dressed as a pickle, but all smiles, Toronto Alderman Art Eggleton hands out a balloon to Diana Russo, 2, of Grace Street, at campaign headquarters last night. Supporter Robert Long offers Hallowe'en treat. 
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Though he was the City of Toronto’s longest-serving mayor (1980-91) and had a long post-mayoral career as an MP, federal cabinet minister, and senator, Eggleton never quite gained the accolades for his tenure or inspired the awe other holders of the office have earned. At the end of a profile on Eggleton written for the Globe & Mail’s Toronto magazine in 1989, Colin Vaughan related an incident he felt represented Eggleton’s legacy at the time. A quarter of a century on, Vaughan’s anecdote requires little update, especially given David Crombie’s continued interest in local matters.
Perhaps Eggleton’s legacy was best summed up by an incident at the Toronto Arts Awards ceremony held last October. Accepting an award from David Crombie, architect Jack Diamond in turn praised Crombie as one “who wanted Toronto to be a liveable city, rather than a world-class city.” Diamond’s barbed comment could hardly have missed its mark. For there in the front row was Art. The audience applauded loudly, in contrast to earlier in the evening when Eggleton had been introduced, and had waved to the conspicuously silent crowd. That silence said it all.
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I admit I now want to search for the full details of both Harold Ballard Day and Muppet Babies Day. For the former, did any long-suffering Maple Leafs fans protest? For the latter, did they make anyone’s dreams come true that day?

***

One of the best accounts of the shenanigans surrounding the second city council vote over the Lesbian and Gay Pride Day proclamation in 1989 was provided by Sun city hall columnist Christie Blatchford. Remarkably even-handed for a paper whose view of the gay community was usually abominable, Blatchford’s column rightly criticizes the worst grandstanders (citing councillors Betty Disero and Chris Korwin-Kuczynski for the most cynical performances) while praising two politicians who appeared to act out of genuine motives. The column may be one of the few times the Sun ever lauded Jack Layton, which I outlined in my article. The other was Kay Gardner, who cast a key vote.
The issue caused the North Toronto councillor agony. A reformer by instinct, a fighter for the little guy by training, a gentle softy by nature, Gardner is also painfully shy and private. She was torn on this one—between her heart, which would tend to be with gay activists like Kyle Rae, and her natural reserve and belief that sexual orientation are private matters, not be celebrated in public.
“On a terribly cynical day,” Blatchford concluded, “two politicians, on opposite sides of the fence, stuck to their guns. You have to like it.

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You'll notice I haven't posted any "bonus features" for awhile, owing to a busy work plate lately. I'm aiming to revive these extra nuggets, and will go back to other recent articles to fill in more background or clean up the scrapings from the cutting room floor. 

Additional material from the November 24, 1989 edition of the Globe and Mail, the November 1, 1978 edition of the Toronto Star, and the June 16, 1989 edition of the Toronto Sun.



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