Toronto bar apologizes for political donation to white nationalist
In a bizarre and somewhat mystifying update nearly three years after the fact, the owner of a Toronto sports bar has just apologized for donating to the failed mayoral campaign of Faith Goldy in 2018.
The bar in question, Shoxs Billiard Lounge, has been a popular haunt among locals in The Junction since 1995 (though its purported history goes back even further, to 1903, when saloons were first prohibited from operating in that particular neighbourhood.)
Known primarily as a laid-back sports bar with hearty pub-style comfort food, the establishment raised some eyebrows in early 2019 when PressProgress reported that its owner had given $1,000 to Goldy while she was running for Mayor of Toronto.
Then, today, out of nowhere, the longtime business owner came forward with a formal statement regarding his political donation to a woman who has been denounced as everything from a white nationalist to an "alt-right neo-Nazi."
"To the Junction community; I understand that there are valued neighbours who are upset by my donation in 2018 to Faith Goldy, for which I owe you all an explanation," wrote Koutoumanos in the caption of an Instagram post published Wednesday afternoon.
"I did not intend to hurt or offend my community and friends. My donation was spur of the moment. At that time, I did not do any research into this candidate when she asked for my support," he continued.
"If I had known then what I know now about the stances that this former mayoral candidate held or the groups that she associated with, I would not have provided any support, monetary or otherwise. I realize that my actions were harmful to many of you."
Koutoumanos went on to explain that he stands against white supremacy and racism in all forms.
"At Shoxs, we are an organization where all employees and guests are valued and respected regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sexual orientation or identity, education or disability," he wrote.
"We are also committed to providing an equal opportunity for employment and advancement at our establishment. We respect and seek diverse voices and heritages."
"I hope you’ll forgive me as I continue to learn about the issues and hardships many in our community face every day," the statement concludes. "I will strive to lead by example in this amazing community and beyond."
While some commenters are wondering why he chose now to apologize, community members seem more than forgiving — they're downright supportive, which likely speaks to the business itself and its connection to the Junction neighbourhood.
"Bravo Gus. Your integrity was never in doubt to me, as a customer of Shoxs. You have worked extremely hard at fashioning a sports bar that is welcoming to all," wrote one regular on Instagram.
"It was disappointing to see some of the comments people were making based on hearsay, and not on the Shoxs experience, which I love. I hope that people will visit Shoxs to see for themselves why Shoxs is an integral part of the Junction."
"This speaks volumes to who you truly are!" wrote another. "Anyone who has spent any time with you knows how genuine and good hearted you truly are. Keep up the good work Gus, and most of all, keep smiling."
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