'Despicable,' says 1 councillor. 'Out of step with the times,' mayor says of lingerie-laced fundraiser
Charlie Clark says it's good the Progress Club will review its fundraising practices
Saskatoon's mayor is speaking out against the nature of a recent charity fundraiser that included women in G-strings dancing on raised walkways.
"I think it's out of step with the times," said Charlie Clark on Wednesday.
"I have a daughter and I know it's very important for me that she grow up in a society where she feels that she's not an object, that she's safe and recognized for who she is."
'Despicable' then and now: councillor
On Friday, the Saskatoon branch of the Canadian Progress Club held its 36th annual Boys Lunch Out fundraiser at the city-owned TCU Place convention centre.
A CBC reporter saw about five minutes of the event, which included scantily-clad women on a walkway, male attendees watching on giant monitors and an MC making crude sexual jokes. Some of the event was captured on video.
The Progress Club said that a recent CBC News story had "grossly misrepresented" the fundraiser.
City councillor Cynthia Block was blunt in her criticism of the long-running event, saying she first became aware of it 22 years ago.
"I recall challenging the men in my circle of the day, most of whom vigorously defended the event, about how they would feel if it was their wife, daughter or sister on that stage," she said.
"I had no idea that the event continued ... but suffice to say it is as despicable to me today as it was 22 years ago."
Should TCU Place have hosted?
Several other councillors and the mayor echoed Block in saying they have never attended Boys Lunch Out.
"I didn't go this year," said Clark. "I haven't been in the past."
Clark says the mayor doesn't get involved in picking what events happen at TCU Place.
He said the Saskatoon Centennial Auditorium and Convention Centre Corporation, which runs the convention centre, decided the event was within its policy.
"If you want my personal opinion on it, I think that a lot of the questions that are being raised are important ones to raise at this time in society," Clark said, citing the swirl of sexual misconduct allegations surrounding Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
"There's a lot of issues around … the objectification of women and parts of our society where we see we have more work to do. So I think it's good that the Progress Club has identified that they're going to be reflecting on this and reevaluating."
In his own statement, TCU Place CEO Bob Korol said the facility "does not determine the type of events hosted" but that it might decline to host an event "if there is compelling evidence of a public safety concern."
"It is the responsibility of the event organizers to meet all standards and conditions of any licensing requirements for the event," he added.
City councillor Randy Donauer said the city "can't impose morals on the community," adding that "we have to have fair and open rental policies ... as a public facility."
"I don't believe council should be adjudicating individual events at the city's controlled corporations," echoed councillor Mairin Loewen.
But, she added, "I think it's important that public places and facilities in our community provide safe space and protection for people who are attending, working or performing at events in those facilities."
Group focuses on children's needs
Friday's event raised $90,000 for local charities, according to one attendee.
The Progress Club's website lists 20 charities it supports through fundraisers and other events. The group says it focuses on children's needs.
The group said Wednesday it will review its fundraising practices going forward and will work to create "inclusive and positive environments that will foster our partnerships for decades to come."
with files from Charles Hamilton and David Shield