The six openly gay members of Canada’s House of Commons have expressed their shock and sadness at the deaths of dozens of people in a gay nightclub in Orlando, and are calling for tolerance and solidarity in the wake of the massacre.
Perhaps the most high-profile of the six is Treasury Board President Scott Brison, who came out publicly in 2002 and was only the fourth MP ever to do so. He and his husband, Maxime Saint-Pierre, are now fathers to twin girls.
On Tuesday, Brison said the attack had a personal resonance for him.
“I feel, as a member of a community that has been subject to such an attack, particularly saddened,” he said.
Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan, who married his partner Steve Doss in 2010, recently spoke to The West Block’s Tom Clark at length about the acceptance he has found in both Ottawa and in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
O’Regan has been tweeting regularly about the shooting in Florida and its aftermath, but declined to offer further comment on Tuesday.
The NDP’s Sheri Benson, currently the only openly gay female MP in the House, said she was home in Saskatoon for the annual Pride celebrations over the weekend when she heard what had happened in Florida.
“I was going home to really feel good and feel a part of the community, and sort of did all of that on Saturday,” she recalled. “And then woke up on Sunday … everybody has a different reaction. I was just very, very sad.”
Benson said the attack has shaken her own sense of personal safety.
“You start to think about things you didn’t think about before, even 24 hours earlier,” she said. “You start to think about your safety, you start to think about other people’s safety … You can take things for granted, even when there are more struggles to come.”
Liberal MPs Rob Oliphant and Randy Boissonnault, meanwhile, both took the opportunity to rise in the House of Commons on Monday to express their condolences.
Oliphant recalled standing alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and raising a Pride flag on Parliament Hill just two weeks before.
“I saw this as the joyful end of a long human rights journey,” he said. “Yesterday, this dream was shattered … There are no words to describe my feelings of sadness, grief and anger.”
Oliphant then urged Canadians to “stand together against violence and terror.”
Boissonnault donned a rainbow-coloured tie in the House as he spoke.
“I proudly wear these colours today in memory of 50 of our Orlando brothers and sisters,” said Boissonnault, who also attended a candlelight vigil in Edmonton for the victims over the weekend.
“Let us remind ourselves in the days and weeks to come that with time, hate will always be conquered by love. Love will prevail.”
NDP MP Randall Garrison took to Twitter to call for “solidarity” in the face of hatred, homophobia and guns. In addition to being openly gay himself, Garrison also serves as his party’s critic for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transsexual issues.