The brother-in-law of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will be one of two grand marshals at the Queen City Pride Parade in Regina next month — but don’t expect a family reunion.
Jon Ryan, who was born in Regina and plays as a punter for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, will serve as grand marshal of the parade alongside the AIDS Programs South Saskatchewan, which was also invited to lead the parade for its work combating the rising number of AIDS cases in the city.
Despite the family ties, it does not appear Scheer, who represents the riding of Regina-Qu’Appelle, will attend.
A spokesperson for Scheer said the leader has made his position on attending Pride parades clear in the past.
In an interview with the West Block in May 2017, then newly-elected Scheer said Pride parades have become too “politicized.”
“I mean what’s going on with Pride today?” he said.
“You know they’re not even allowing police officers. People put their lives on the line for hard working Canadians, law-abiding Canadians aren’t allowed to march. I mean it’s become a politicized event that I think what was once maybe fighting for a policy objective to obtain recognition has now become something that’s gone way beyond that. Many members of that community don’t support the type of event it’s turned into.”
In an interview with the Globe and Mail earlier this year, Scheer again said he would not march but that he will support the LGBT community in other ways.
“Not everybody marches,” Scheer said. “There are other ways that I’ve chosen to show support for the community.”
Still, organizers say they have invited him and other leaders.
“There have been invites to all political leaders to participate in our parade this year,” said Dan Shier, co-chair of the Queen City Pride Parade.
“Whether or not Mr. Scheer accepts that invitation and joins us is still unconfirmed.”
WATCH BELOW: ‘It sends a powerful signal’ – Tory on first Prime Minister to attend Pride Parade
The news that Ryan, who is married to American standup comedian Sarah Colonna, would be one of the grand marshals was first reported by the Regina Leader Post and then confirmed to Global News.
Shier said the decision to invite Ryan to be one of the grand marshals was natural because he is an outspoken supporter of the LGBT community in sports.
Ryan also responded strongly to try and shut down homophobic comments online in the wake of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, which Shier said was a significant factor in the decision to invite the punter.
“We know those spaces to be maybe not the most friendly for both out and not out players, and even fans as well, so we wanted to shed some light on that space this year,” Shier said of the professional and amateur sporting environments.
“He had been outspoken about being supportive of the community at that point [the Pulse shooting] and when he received negative responses and homophobic responses he didn’t back down. … That was one of the main reasons we chose him this year.”
The report, which came before Queen City Pride Parade organizers had the chance to issue a press release, quickly prompted words of support online.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became the first sitting Canadian prime minister to march in a Pride parade in 2016 when he took part in the Toronto Pride Parade.
Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper did not march in Pride parades.
Former NDP Leader Tom Mulcair did do so, as did the party’s late leader, Jack Layton.
Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown also marched for the first time in 2015 in Toronto alongside federal Conservative MP Kellie Leitch.
The following year, Brown marched with interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose in the same parade.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford repeatedly refused to attend the Toronto parade.
His brother, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford, has criticized the Toronto parade for including “buck naked men” but said during his failed mayoral campaign in 2014 that he would attend if elected.