Toronto mayor says 'sorry' to Miss Universe

Toronto mayor David Miller issued an apology Tuesday to Miss Universe after the city barred her from opening a festival over concerns about sexual stereotyping.

Toronto Mayor David Miller has issued an apology to Miss Universe after the city barred her from opening a festival on municipal property over concerns about sexual stereotyping.

"It's unfortunate and silly," said Miller. "It won't happen again."

Natalie Glebova was set to open a festival last weekend at Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall, but municipal officials told organizers that the recently crowned Torontonian couldn't perform that duty if she wore her sash or her tiara, or if she was introduced by her title.

They said beauty pageants and beauty queens were banned from the square by a bylaw that prohibits activities deemed to be degrading to men or women through sexual stereotyping.

Miller said it was all a mistake and an overreaction on someone's part.

"[It's] certainly not the way I read the bylaw," he said. "I don't think it's appropriate. She should have been allowed to come to City Hall."

Former Toronto mayor June Rowlands cited the same bylaw years ago while refusing to let the Barenaked Ladies play at the square in front of City Hall because of the pop-rock group's name.

"I was a little bit hurt by the whole thing. I love Toronto. It's my hometown," said Natalie Glebova, the 23-year-old Canadian woman who captured the Miss Universe title in Bangkok in May.

"I definitely don't think that the Miss Universe title is any kind of stereotype or sexual stereotype."

According to a city bylaw, "activities which degrade men or women through sexual stereotyping, or exploit the bodies of men, women, boys or girls solely for the purpose of attracting attention," are not permitted at Nathan Phillips Square.

Glebova could still open the festival, organizers were told, but under strict conditions. She couldn't wear her sash or tiara, and couldn't be referred to as either Miss Universe or a beauty queen.

Instead, organizers were told, they could refer to her as "an individual of note contributing to our community."

A city spokesman said bureaucrats were only enforcing the rules, adding that council would have to amend the bylaw in order to change the policy.