Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: #48, Mathieu Chantelois
Our annual ranking of the people whose smarts, connections and clout are changing the city as we know it
48 Toronto’s annual Pride Parade is led by grand marshals, a kind of sparkly celebrity figurehead role filled this year by Cyndi Lauper, David Furnish and members of Pussy Riot. Behind the scenes, a more diplomatic and discreet leader works year-round at appeasing the community, which now goes by the acronym LGBTTIQQ2SA. Pride’s fresh-faced francophone executive director has the diplomatic skills and savoir-faire for the gig. In June, he invoked a rarely used dispute resolution process to effectively prevent the Canadian Association for Equality, a so-called men’s rights group that has been widely accused of misogyny, from marching in the parade. Corporate connections developed over years working for the 519 community centre helped secure him the executive directorship of Pride Toronto. And personal connections have served him well: Chantelois was able to get David Furnish on board for Pride 2015 through his vast network. After World Pride came and went in 2014, the fear among Pride’s organizers was that it would represent a high-water mark in the festival’s 35-year history. Instead, thanks to Chantelois’s efforts (and no thanks to the rainy weather), more than one million revellers packed the parade route.
Chantelois was a personality on the Canadian reality TV show U8TV: The Lofters, a bad version of Big Brother.