I love Calgary’s Pride Festival. I love how it celebrates everyone, I love how it’s family friendly and I love how it’s the only parade in this city that if not dealt with properly, can send even the most organized political campaign into a tailspin.
This year’s parade comes on the heels of a year full of political struggle for Alberta’s LGTBQ community. It seems surprising, but it’s hard to ignore that so many of this province’s politicians are still actively working against gay equality.
So far this year, we’ve dealt with the government overwhelming voting against Gay Straight Alliances in our schools, Ric McIver walking in the hateful March for Jesus Parade and then there’s the government’s continued support of Bill 44, which allows parents to pull students from some education elements that they feel contradict their religious beliefs – specifically discussions that involve any mention of sexual orientation.
Both Jim Prentice and McIver have expressed their support for this bill.
Yet, Prentice, who’s currently in the running to be the new leader of the PC party, is planning on walking in this weekend’s parade. How can he support a homophobic bill and also walk in this city’s Pride parade? Your guess is as good as mine. So if you see him, ask him. Alberta’s children deserve an answer.
McIver, too, is in the running to be Alberta’s next boss. Ric told me earlier this summer that attending the Pride parade didn’t fit into his schedule. This week he had a change of heart and said on Twitter he would be at the parade to meet his bosses.
Makes sense, why would any politician miss out on an opportunity to be seen by at least 40,000 people. But the fact that he too supports the homophobic Bill 44 is very much cause for concern. Are these men going because they truly believe in supporting the LGTBQ community, or because they want to be the next Premier? It seems like they’re trying to pander to one too many groups and now their messaging doesn’t even make sense.
I’m happy that all of these politicians, and even the Calgary Flames and Stampeders, will be walking in the Pride parade – many for the first time – each one of them a role model, in some way, to Albertans.
But their participation doesn’t mean that Alberta is in the clear when it comes to equality.
McIver, Prentice and the Wildrose Party, who also voted against the GSAs and have definitely struggled with the LGTBQ messaging in the past, all have to ask themselves why they’re there and more importantly, we have to ask: do we believe them?