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About the Case

In 2020, Borderland Pride, the Northern Ontario Pride Network, Douglas W. Judson, and Kathryn L. Shoemaker launched a legal proceeding against the Township of Emo, Mayor Harold McQuaker, Councillor Harrold Boven, and Councillor Warren Toles in relation to their council's refusal to recognize Pride Month by adopting a council resolution.


The statements made at the council meetings in May 2020 where the matter was discussed - and in the press which followed - made clear that the decision was explicitly homophobic and/or transphobic and rooted in bigotry on the part of the three-member majority of council.

Adopting resolutions or proclamations in support of community groups or special events is a municipal service. Ontario's Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in the provision of a service. Refusing to provide a service on the basis of a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, family status, and other protected grounds is prohibited under the Code.

Municipalities like the Township of Emo are subject to the Code. There have been numerous cases brought under provincial human rights codes since the mid-1990s where it has been determined that the failure to grant a Pride resolution or proclamation is discriminatory within the meaning of the Code.

The Township of Emo has a history of issuing resolutions or proclamations in support of community events. They have done so on numerous occasions, including in the months immediately preceding our request in May 2020. It is obvious that their problem was that a queer organization had made the request.

This is discrimination within the meaning of the Code. The Human Rights Tribunal will hear this matter in June 2024.

The Pleadings

Pleadings are the documents that set out the positions of the parties.


In a proceeding before the Tribunal, the initiating party is called the applicant. The applicants are Borderland Pride, the Northern Ontario Pride Network, Douglas W. Judson, and Kathryn L. Shoemaker.


The parties who the claim is brought against are called the respondents. The respondents in this case are the Township of Emo, Harold McQuaker, Harrold Boven, and Warren Toles.

The pleadings are called the Application and Response. Here are the pleadings in this matter:

The Evidence and Other Filings

On November 2, 2023, the Tribunal issued an endorsement directing that evidence in chief (the evidence that the parties wish to put in from their own evidence) would be submitted by written evidence statements. The opposing parties will then be able to cross-examine the witnesses on their witness statements. The parties have also filed briefs of relevant documents which they may rely on at the hearing in June.

Witness statements and document briefs that have been filed are as follows:

From the Applicants:

From the Respondent the Township of Emo:

From the Respondents McQuaker, Boven, and Toles:

A complete set of these documents can also be viewed and downloaded here.

The Hearing

The hearing is scheduled to take place June 4, 5, 6, 11, and 12, 2024 via Zoom.

The Applicants are represented by Cambridge LLP.

The Township of Emo is represented by McKitricks, Barristers & Solicitors.

Harold McQuaker, Harrold Boven, and Warren Toles are represented by Wishart Law Firm LLP.

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