BY NATASHA BARSOTTI –
"We are in a province where people are inclusive, they respect diversity. And it's important for our political leadership to understand that," newly reelected Alberta Premier Alison Redford said during her appearance at Edmonton Pride over the weekend, according to the Calgary Herald
"I think that we're a very different province than we were many years ago and I'm very proud of that," Redford told reporters.
Despite the inroads the Wildrose Party, under Danielle Smith, seemed to be making in the leadup to the April 23 provincial election, Redford and her Progressive Conservatives were returned to office, thanks in large part to what political observers called the "bozo eruptions" from Wildrose candidates Allan Hunsperger and Ron Leech. While Leech talked up his Caucasian credibility, seeing it as an advantage that allows him to "speak to all the community," Hunsperger warned that gays and lesbians would burn in a "lake of fire" if they didn't change their sexual orientation. Smith defended her candidates' right to free speech.
While there were those, like Michael Phair (the city's first openly gay councillor in 1992), who saw Redford's appearance at Pride as sending a message about the importance of diversity, others weren't so impressed.
Rabble.ca noted that the media "were awash in promises the premier would actually be in the parade." But that didn't come to pass.
A Canadian Press report in The Vancouver Sun noted there were shouts of "What about Bill 44?" from several in the crowd. Passed in 2009, the legislation requires school boards to send written notice to parents when topics relating to sex, religion or sexual orientation are taught. The measure allows parents to pull their children from classes when those topics are discussed.
Last year, Naheed Nenshi, wearing a T-shirt that read, "straight not narrow," became the first mayor to lead the Pride parade in Calgary.