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City denies Afrofest an event permit. Is this a sign of things for the first Summer of Ford, or no big deal?

Afrofesters rest at the foot of George VI in Queen’s Park in 2009 (Image: Anthony Easton)

For more than 20 years, Toronto has hosted Afrofest at Queen’s Park. This year, however, just as the festival was booking its vendors and acts for the upcoming event, the City of Toronto has rejected its event permit. Is this a sign of a crackdown on fun by Mayor Rob Ford, whose love of all things multicultural is legend?  Probably not, according to, the Toronto Sun.

Also refused a special event permit by city hall is the Toronto Freedom Festival, which was slated for May, also on the north lawn of Queen’s Park.

Disappointed Afrofest organizers said the city’s park, forestry and recreations department refused to issue them a permit for the two-day event in July that is a highlight for the African community in Toronto.

“This is the most significant event every year,” said festival president Michael Stohr. “People are shocked and stunned by what is happening […] I think Afrofest as we know it is gone,” he said on Monday. “I think the festival would be set back 20 years if we moved to another venue.”

So it’s not just Afrofest that’s being denied a permit, and the Sun notes that there’s some cause here. According to city staff, Afrofesters left a minor disaster area around the provincial legislature in previous years. Nevertheless, we think it would probably be best for the Toronto Sun to avoid referring to Africa as “the Dark Continent” (as they did in this story) on the same day that Justin Trudeau gets in hot water for his own linguistic problems.

Meanwhile, Freedom Festival (which holds a marijuana march) also got its event permit killed. It may not be Rob Ford’s fault, but the war on fun continues.

• City denies Afrofest an event permit [Toronto Sun]