“Calgary Pride looks forward to building a relationship with the newly formed United Conservative Party and having them demonstrate their commitment to the gender and sexually diverse community through their new platform and policies over the next year and onward,” Calgary Pride president Jason Kingsley said in a statement to Global News on Saturday.
A letter was sent to UCP members regarding the Pride event, thanking them for applying to walk in the parade.
In the letter, the organization said the UCP doesn’t have clear policy in support of gender and sexually diverse community and suggested members take a three-hour course offered by the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.
“Thank you so much for applying to walk in this year’s Pride Parade,” the letter reads.
“In the application process, we ask political entries to provide information on how they’ve worked with our community in the past 12 months. As your organization does not yet have clear policy in support of the gender and sexually diverse community, we would like to encourage a collaborative learning opportunity, prior to participating as parade entries.”
Members of the UCP were invited to take part in the parade as spectators.
“(We) can provide a member of our community to liaison with you so as to foster learning more about our community and history,” the letter reads. “Then, at the end of the parade, as we do with all attendees, we welcome them to join the march towards the Pride in the Park as we walk in solidarity.”
The UCP director of communications responded to the decision Monday.
“While we are disappointed to not be participating in this year’s parade, we respect the organizing committee’s decision and look forward to showing our support for Calgary’s LGBTQ community as spectators,” Samantha Johnston wrote in an email to Global News.
The former Opposition leader in the legislature as head of the Wildrose Party and current leadership candidate for the UCP said Monday he is disappointed and hopes organizers will change their decision. Brian Jean said he had asked to march in the parade and has always championed diversity and tolerance.
The leader of the Alberta Liberal Party told Global News his party members will march this year, as they have for many past parades.
“We’ve been on the vanguard of LGBTQ rights for many decades here in Alberta and federally,” David Khan told Global News Monday. “I’m the first openly gay leader of a major political party in Alberta, so I’m also proud to be at Pride in that capacity.”
Khan said the group’s suggestion that UCP members take the course offered by the Calgary Sexual Health Centre was a “positive step” for people to be “properly educated.”
The communications chair and president of the Edmonton-Decore CA for the Alberta Party said its members respect the decision-making authority of the Calgary Pride committee, “particularly in light of the ambiguity of some of the leadership contestants on LGBTQ rights.”
“We believe that being an ally requires action outside of the Pride parade setting and that the parade should be a celebration of support, not just used as a public relations opportunity,” Robbie Kreger-Smith wrote in an email to Global News on Monday. “We have been a long-term supporter of the LGBTQ community in our policy, positions and involvement in various Pride-related activities across the province and will proudly continue to be.”
Calgary’s Pride Parade will be held on Sept. 3.
With files from Global’s Erika Tucker and The Canadian Press