Jun 24, 2014
Am I a shit disturber? That’s the question I asked myself a lot last week. In cause you don’t follow me on Twitter (AND WHY AREN’T YOU?!) You may have noticed last week, I was very upset that Calgary-area MLA Ric McIver walked in a parade called March For Jesus.
The issue, of course is not that McIver was walking in a parade that celebrated his faith, it was that that particularly parade was organized by a man with extremely hateful views about the LGTBQ community, including blaming Calgary’s Pride Parade celebrations for last year’s flood and consequently, the death of five people. I, along with a lot of people were frustrated and sad that in this day in age, we had to explain to an MLA how hurtful his actions were. The days after the parade weren’t exactly the stuff that political strategists would call a success story. McIver posted a message on his Facebook page about celebrating diversity, then three days later he finally issued a mea culpa. But a lot of people weren’t satisfied. A lot of people had a lot of questions, including myself. I wrote about those questions in last week’s Metro column. Still not satisfied with how the issue has been unfolding, yesterday, I got the opportunity to talk to McIver and ask the questions that I think people should have been demanding the answers to. This, is that interview. I’m not sure if I’m a shit disturber. I mean, I don’t think I am. I think, I like to ask questions, especially when I think politicians aren’t answering them. The trick is, of course, politicians are professionals at not really answering questions. I’m glad I got this opportunity to talk to the man, who is also in the running to be the leader of the Alberta PCs and subsequently, our next Premier. I’m not sure if he answered the questions to the point where I was completely satisfied, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Mike: I have to admit, your actions last week caught me off guard. Why is the LGTBQ issue is still an issue in Alberta politics?
Ric: It shouldn’t be. I didn’t intend for it be one. In my mind, it isn’t an issue. But I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person. I drew attention to a very ugly and harmful website. You know what? I’m taking my public beating for it, but it doesn’t reflect my personal views in anyway.
Had Artur Pawlowski expressed to you his thoughts on homosexuality?
Ric: They have some strongly held views, but I hadn’t heard anything that’s even in the neighbourhood of what’s on that website.
Given your long and documented history with him, do you understand why people are skeptical?
Ric: What I didn’t apologize for and what I won’t apologize for now is my feelings towards gay and lesbian people. I don’t have any negative thoughts. That’s why I haven’t apologized for it, because I have no negative words or thoughts on that. But what I will apologize for is allowing a website that ugly to get that much attention. You’re right, I thought people had the right to ask about the history and I tried to explain that. That’s why I did the press conference in front of City Hall. The guy I became friends with was feeding the poor on the street. I felt frankly that bylaw officers were picking on him and I used to take time to say hello to the people he was feeding. Then he invited me to March for Jesus and I thought, “Well, I’m a Christian, what can be wrong with that?” My Christian faith is “Love thy neighbor and love yourself.” What’s on that website is the exact opposite, which is wrong and I don’t agree with it.
Mike: The timeline of last week is a bit confusing. You walked in the parade on Sunday, by Sunday night people were very upset, but then on Monday you said that you’d continue to attend events that celebrate diversity. But it wasn’t until Thursday that you said that one was the wrong one to attend.
Ric: That event should have been about diversity, but as it turns out, based on the website, it’s not. That’s my fault for not seeing it.
Mike: On Sunday night, you knew what the website said, but the next day you made the comment about celebrating diversity. That’s where the issue comes from.
Ric: Honestly, Mike. The most important thing to me on Monday was to say that I don’t agree with the views on that website. Because they don’t in any way reflect who I am, what I think and feel. And frankly, that was the most important point and I wanted to make that quite deftly. People were asking questions, “How could you be there, Ric?”, I knew I owed people a further explanation and that’s what I tried to do on Thursday. Even if you look at the video that I did, it was all about the guy’s work with feeding people on the street. In no way did it support negative views or the hurtful website issues.
Mike: On the note of you attending events that celebrate diversity, what LGTBQ events have you attended in the past?
Ric: I don’t know if I have attended any.
Mike: Why do you think that is?
Ric: No explanation. I’ve certainly gone to lots of events in the community, but not sure if any LGTBQ events. The only one I’m really aware of that happens on a regular basis is the Pride parade. I know there’s other events, believe me.
Mike: Do you think it’s important that you go to this year’s parade?
Ric: Quite frankly, I’m not sure what I’m going to get to this year’s. I know I’m going to the Gay Rodeo this weekend and I’ll look for more opportunities to meet with more of my bosses. I guess my whole campaign is based on that all Albertans are my boss, and by all, I mean all. Gay, straight, lesbian. That’s how I think. I think it’s important that I try to go. I think it’s important to get to know people and acknowledge that people can live the way that they are born and live the way that they are. That’s what I mean when I go to events based on diversity, its celebrating people’s freedom to be who they are.
Mike: When will you decide if you’re going to the Pride Parade or not?
Ric: I don’t know the answer to that. That’s a good question. One of the humiliations that you go through when you run for leadership is that you give life’s control to somebody else and that’s where I am.
Mike: If you do go this weekend’s gay rodeo and hypothetically the Pride Parade, do you think you’ll hear from people who are upset that you attended?
Ric: I’m not sure. I wouldn’t be surprised. I say this all the time: I’m happy to hear whatever people have to say. I’m happy if people say, “Ric, you’re so wrong, it’s unbelievable. I’m happy if people say, “Ric, you’re so right it’s unbelievable.” Obviously I want them to say the second one. But I’m happy to hear both. When people say nasty things just to be mean, I don’t have a lot patience for that. When people say nasty things, because they genuinely believe it to be true, My initial reaction to ask them why they feel that way.
Mike: Does the gay community have a friend in you as Premier?
Ric: Yes. As do all Albertans.
Mike: Have the actions of last week hurt your campaign?
Ric: I’ll give you a definitely maybe. I’m not sure. Straight up. I don’t know. There’s no doubt. I’ve won and lost a few elections, you never really know what people are thinking until election day.
Mike: Is there any reason the LGTBQ community should be worried about your involvement in the Alberta government?
Ric: Only if they think I spend too much money on things that aren’t important to them. They have nothing to worry about. If they don’t like the policies I put forward, they should worry about that. But no, they shouldn’t feel any personal way troubled at all.