By Drew Thomas, August 6 2019 —
In a media release dated July 24, Calgary Pride revealed their decision to disallow all political entities from participating in this year’s Pride Parade. In their release, they state that the New Democratic Party (NDP) would have been the only party whose application would have been approved by Pride’s process. As a result, they made the decision to disallow them based on the perceived messages it would send to those who did not vote for the NDP and the fact that it might paint other parties in a negative light.
The United Conservative Party (UCP) has been disallowed from participating in the parade for the past two years. In 2017, the application for the newly formed UCP was denied as support of the gender-and-sexually-diverse community was not clear in their policy. In 2018, their application was rejected for not fulfilling Calgary Pride’s application criteria. The contentious decision was perceived by some as a commentary on the UCP’s record and policies lacking support for the LGBTQ2S+ community.
In a statement dated July 29, Calgary Pride clarified that the UCP’s application to participate in Pride this year had been rejected prior to the jury selection process with letters sent twice in the past months citing that, “…for the first time in Canadian History, the UCP became the first governing political party to roll back LGBTQ2S+ rights.” This statement is in reference to Bill 8: The Education Amendment Act or Bill Hate, as it is affectionately called by its opposition, as it’s seen as a rollback of the protections for LGBTQ2S+ students brought in by the previous NDP government.
Bill 8 has been a flashpoint for the two transitioning parties with NDP Caucus members filibustering for a record 40 hours straight of debate against these rollbacks. Calgary Pride included several policy suggestions in their release for the governing political party to move forward with a conversion therapy ban and reversal of Bill 8 as prerequisites for reopening the conversation about political parties marching in the Calgary Pride parade.
This new statement further outlines that the reason for the decision to disallow the NDP from participating in the parade was to not appear preferential or exclusionary. The statement clarifies that it is not banning individuals — they will be allowed to march with accepted parade participants and wear party identification as long as they don’t bear banners or signs — in the hopes that personal allyship shines through over partisan association.
This news came as a shock to many and drew responses from people both in support of and against the political party ban with hashtags like #Rachelmustmarch showing support for the NDP and a desire for former Premier Rachel Notley to be included.
The NDP is attempting to appeal the decision. A meeting set for Monday with opposition MLA Janis Irwin had been postponed as of press time.
For more information, or to weigh in on the political party ban, visit Calgary Pride’s website.