Councillor Bill Marra is pictured as Windsor city council debates hiring an in-house auditor general on October 29, 2015. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

City Councillor Reconsidering Caboto Club Membership

A high-profile member is adding more pressure to Windsor’s Caboto Club to change its men-only rule.

Windsor Councillor Bill Marra says he has always been a proud Italian and a proud member of the club, but if it does not change, he might have to.

“Especially in the case that I hold leadership roles in the community, I get approached on a number of different issues, and with the events that have taken place at the Caboto Club over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a lot of unsolicited feedback on the matter,” he says.

“I’m incredibly proud of my Italian heritage,” continues Marra. “It still begs the question… whether or not it is time for an organization, such as the Caboto Club, to revisit its policy around membership, and the fact here is an obvious gender inequality.”

The club, one of Windsor’s three Italian service clubs, only allows men to become members, and only men can vote on policy. Women are allowed to join a non-voting auxiliary board.

The Caboto Club has been facing increasing pressure to allow female members since 2010, but more recently after Premier Kathleen Wynne cancelled a planned town hall meeting there, opting instead for the St. Clair Centre for the Arts.

General Manager Ron Moro has defended the policy, saying it is part of the club’s heritage dating back to its founding 93 years ago.

Marra says that is not good enough for him anymore.

“Regardless of whether you’re a private club or not, values should be consistent with the community, the province, and the country that you live within,” he says.

He admits he has only recently given the issue much thought but says he’s not surprised given the current climate in North America regarding gender inequality.

“This situation should not be taken within a negative context,” he opines. “I think it should be embraced as a positive opportunity for progressive change.”

Caboto’s executive will sit down Thursday and discuss whether to bring a possible change in the rule to the general assembly. Marra says it will meet later this month.