Several Toronto councillors are urging the City to pull its advertising dollars from the Italian-Canadian newspaper Corriere Canadese.
Councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Paul Ainslie allege the publication is printing and distributing homophobic and transphobic articles which directly goes against the City of Toronto’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy (HRAP).
“Public dollars should not be used to promote views that are discriminatory and can cause harm,” said Wong-Tam.
Former Liberal MP Joe Volpe is the publisher of Corriere Canadese.
The lawyer for Volpe and the newspaper denies that it published articles that are “homophobic, transphobic, and discriminatory.”
But according to several Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustees, they say Corriere Canadese has targeted them, along with the TCDSB and the LGBTQ2 community.
“They’ve been trying to implement a sort of viewpoint, hindering our students, us LGBTQ2+ youth, and trying to convince them that being themselves is not right,” said student trustee Keith Baybayon.
Volpe’s articles have described an LGBTQ2 resource link that is posted on the TCDSB’s website as “smut” and “pornographic,” and the actions of trustees as “‘moral’ thuggery” and “virtue signalling.”
But Trustee Maria Rizzo says YouthLine is a youth-led organization that supports the experiences of LGBTQ2 under the age of 29.
“There are very few resources for kids who need the kind of help that YouthLine provides,” said Rizzo who described it as a very valuable tool for students.
“We are doing everything we can as a school board to try and bridge that gap that is missing in terms of how we can support our LGBTQ2S+ students and families in our communities.”
The site was briefly removed after some of its content was deemed inappropriate for young kids, but the school board put it back up again after having discussions with the YouthLine staff.
Paul Slansky is the lawyer for both Volpe and Corriere Canadese. He said they’ve served several people a Statement of Claim which, “includes allegations of defamation against Ms. Wong-Tam for defamation and other torts in respect of the motion before Toronto City Council scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday)”.
Trustee Norm Di Pasquale is one of the defendants named in the Statement of Claim. He said the Corriere Canadese articles don’t align with the values of Toronto’s Italian communities.
“These articles have the effect of intimidating staff and students, while enforcing a discriminatory message,” said Di Pasquale.
Wong-Tam said the motion she’s putting forth isn’t trying to limit anyone’s speech and that there is a clear path forward to reconciliation if Volpe and the newspaper are open to it.
“That path is fairly simple. To cease the attacks, to cease the bullying, to cease the harassment and to uphold equity and human rights,” said Wong-Tam.
The motion to pull City advertising dollars from Corriere Canadese will be voted on Wednesday when the matter is debated by city council.