Mayor David Miller says he will apologize to the recently crowned Miss Universe, a 23-year-old Russian-born Canadian citizen from Toronto, after she was effectively barred by city bureaucrats from an event at Nathan Phillips Square.
"It's unfortunate, and silly, and won't happen again," the mayor told reporters yesterday about the ban on Ryerson University graduate Natalie Glebova, who won the international beauty pageant in the Thai capital of Bangkok last month.
The new Miss Universe was invited to attend the Tastes of Thailand festival on the square in front of city hall on Sunday. But organizers were told honouring Ms. Glebova ran afoul of a 1990 bylaw forbidding events on the square that "exploit the bodies of men, women, boys or girls solely for the purposes of attracting attention." The bylaw adds that "specifically, beauty pageants will be prohibited."
Organizers from the Thai Trade Centre say city staff told them Ms. Glebova would be allowed, but could not wear her sash or her tiara, or be introduced as Miss Universe.
The bylaw's wording allows for pageant winners and the like to appear at events, but they cannot be introduced as anything other than an "individual of note contributing to our community."
The mayor, who put in several calls to the travelling Miss Universe yesterday in an attempt to apologize, said the bylaw was interpreted much too strictly by city bureaucrats.
However, he said the bylaw did not need rewriting.
"The bylaw says that there won't be any beauty pageants in Nathan Phillips Square and that's appropriate, that's not a right kind of use for Nathan Phillips Square.
"But it doesn't say that Miss Universe can't be honoured there."