Alberta Minister of Education David Eggen marches with students Madison Jones, left, and Clayton Poirier in the 2018 Pride Parade in Calgary on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018.
Politicians can wear their party affiliation in this year’s parade but their party banners won’t be welcome, say Calgary Pride officials.It’s a stance that has an NDP lawmaker insisting her party’s persistent political support for the LGBTQS2+ community has been ignored.Organizers of the festival beginning Aug. 23 celebrating the LGBTQ2S+ community are standing by their decision to ban political parties from visibly comprising a section of the parade that will wind through downtown Calgary Sept. 1.But individual politicians, preferably those who’ve proven sympathetic to the pride cause, can march at the back of the parade wearing party buttons or pins in a show of support for human rights.“We encourage community partners whose mandates directly serve the LGBTQ2s+ community to invite those politicians that have shown themselves to be true and unequivocal allies, to march with you in solidarity,” said a statement released Tuesday by Calgary Pride.“We ask you to please ensure that you are inviting politicians and not political parties, letting them know they can wear whatever they choose, including identifying markers for their political party.”On Monday, the opposition Alberta NDP said a meeting with Calgary Pride to discuss the issue of political representation had been postponed.
Rachel Notley takes part in the 2018 Pride Parade in downtown Calgary on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018.
After the governing UCP’s application was rejected due to its history of what Calgary Pride says is undermining the confidentiality of school gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and de-funding a group working towards banning conversion therapy, the body decided to ban all political parties from marching.Festival organizers say they’ve received a record number of parade applicants and had to cut off the number of those accepted on space considerations, and that only one political party met its criteria.“The board felt it was inappropriate and preferential to allow only one party to participate,” said the organization.That’s not sitting well with Janis Irwin, the NDP’s critic for women’s and LGBTQS2+ issues who said her party’s efforts in strengthening protections for that community are being overlooked.
Thousands came out to watch and take part in Calgary’s Pride Parade on Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018.
“It’s a bit of a strange line of reasoning…it doesn’t fully make sense — try to compare the track records and it’s clear we’ve been committed,” said Irwin, MLA for Edmonton Highlands-Norwood and the only openly LGBTQ2s+ in the legislature.“It’s a tough argument to swallow.”Because of its political record, Calgary Pride singled out the UCP to connect it to “professional inclusion, diversity, equity and access training in order to inform their creation of anti-discrimination policies, as well as those that promote diversity.”“We recognize there are allies within the UCP party and we are abundantly grateful for their efforts.”Irwin said she hopes Calgary Pride officials are more grateful for her party’s efforts and hope to meet with them to discuss the issue next month.But she said party members will nonetheless attend and hopefully march in the parade.“It’s really important for me and my colleagues — there’s a lot of support for us and the fight we’ve put up,” said Irwin.“We’re getting a lot of questions and we can’t answer them.”BKaufmann@postmedia.comOn Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn