Unifor’s National Auto Director may decline a prestigious honour over the controversy about the Caboto Club’s policy of only allowing men as voting members on the board of directors.

Dino Chiodo, the former Unifor Local 444 leader, was named Windsor’s 2017 Italian of the Year recipient as selected by a committee of Italian clubs across Windsor-Essex. Chiodo is scheduled to receive the award March 17 at the Caboto Club.

Chiodo tells CTV News he will talk to members of the community before making a final decision.

“I will be engaging with the individuals that did nominate me and some of the individuals that I respect in the community to determine the direction I go in,” says Chiodo, who adds he is always pushing to improve diversity and have women on the same playing field as men.

The 93-year-old Giovanni Caboto Club has drawn criticism in the community since Premier Kathleen Wynne decided to cancel a town hall meeting at the centre, over its policy to not allow women as voting members.

More than 300 members attended the club’s annual general meeting on Sunday, where city councillor Bill Marra admits there was a heated debate.

“Notwithstanding the highly charged emotional discussion, it was good and it was a forum finally for the members to be able to start venting some of their views and concerns around the issue.”

The board did not change its constitution after Sunday’s debate. Leaders say they will not bow to public pressure, and they will change the policy on their own terms.

Marra, a club member and former Italian of the Year recipient, has said he is willing to rescind his membership if the club's policy doesn't change.  

“It would be not a good decision to leave before the process,” says Marra. “That way two things can happen. I can make an informed decision personally but also as a member , I can participate in the process and add value to the discussion from a community perspective.”

The University of Windsor's women’s department has been boycotting Caboto for years over its men-only board membership policy.

Other groups have said they may also boycott the club, including the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Essex County District School Board and even the City of Windsor.