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Concert organized by men’s rights group cancelled

The Toronto Islands and the Toronto City Centre Airport, as seen from the 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/ The Globe and Mail

A concert organized by a men's rights group on the Toronto Islands this weekend has been cancelled by the venue's manager, which felt that the event would become too political.

The Canadian Association for Equality planned the festival at Artscape Gibraltar Point to mark what it was calling E-Day, a day to promote men's parental rights in partnership and marriage breakdowns. Specifically, the day was supposed to support Bill C-560, which calls for an amendment to Canada's Divorce Act that would instruct judges to apply shared parenting unless there is proven neglect or abuse.

Artscape, a creative non-profit organization, cancelled the event after a flurry of e-mails and Facebook posts indicated that attendees might get political, which goes against the organization's policy, said its communications director, Liz Kohn.

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"The premise of the event as it was given to us was a fair and equitable event that was family-friendly and a lovely music festival," she said. "It has since turned political and we anticipated that there could be health and safety concerns as well."

Gene Hughes, E-Day founder and a CAFE board member, originally said he was not concerned that the concert was scheduled only a week after Elliot Rodger's murderous rampage in California last week, which sparked the #yesallwomen and #notallmen hashtags and a global online conversation about violence against women.

The concert had been in the works since January, he said, and had nothing to do with the University of California, Santa Barbara, killings.

"It's more about the party," he said.

Since the cancellation, however, Mr. Hughes said he is disappointed that Artscape could not see through a few fringe voices. "They backed off because they are afraid of a little controversy. This is an artistic organization, they're supposed to stand up for what's right, they should be aware of the potential controversy," he said.

CAFE has sparked protests in the past surrounding its attempts to open several university chapters. The most recent controversy was at Ryerson University last fall when it formed a branch without the support of the school's student union.

Notable artists that were in E-Day festival lineup included Ron Hawkins (formerly of Lowest of the Low) and the Do Good Assassins and Spookey Ruben.

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The Toronto Islands have been the site of concerts in the past, including Electric Island and the Toronto Island Concert series.

Mr. Hughes said he has no immediate plans to reschedule the E-Day event.

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