July 23, 2019 5:56 pm

Alberta political parties denied marching in Calgary Pride Parade

The Pride Parade took over downtown Calgary on Sept. 2, 2018.

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Alberta’s political parties won’t be marching in this year’s Calgary Pride Parade after the committee decided on Monday night to deny all applications.

According to the Alberta NDP and the Alberta Party, a jury of some form came to the decision, based on criteria, that the parties wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the parade. A decision the NDP is disappointed by.

“I’d love to learn more about what that criteria is,” MLA Janis Irwin said on Tuesday.

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READ MORE: Reaction pours in as permanent Pride crosswalks painted at downtown Calgary intersection

Irwin said the NDP has a good record in both the legislature and the community when it comes to supporting LGBTQ Albertans, and the party wanted the opportunity to further show its support by marching alongside community members.

“I think there really just needs to be an assessment of what the parties have done,” Irwin said.

“And to treat the two parties and the records of the parties in the same light really negates what’s been done and what needs to be done legislatively.”

Irwin, an openly gay member of the legislature, highlighted her government’s moves to add an X-marker to Alberta drivers licenses, moves to end conversion therapy in the province and their legislative moves to bring more support to LGBTQ students in schools.

She added that the governing UCP doesn’t have a record worth defending when it comes to supporting Albertans in the LGBTQ community.

Premier Rachel Notley marched in the Calgary Pride Parade on Sept. 2, 2018.

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Jason Kenney said his government was disappointed to learn of the decision, saying it wasn’t “in touch with the broad main stream.” Kenney said he wishes everyone celebrating Pride a wonderful time.

“I wish that were done in a very inclusive way. Certainly, I know a lot of conservatives will, in any event, participate,” Kenney said. “But I wish that instead of telling the public who can’t come, instead, it was an inclusive event.

“Ours is a party that respects human dignity as I’ve said since we began our campaign to unite Albertans three years ago, we don’t care how you pray or where you came from or who you love, you have full respect and equal dignity in this province.”

Lana Bentley, former candidate and Alberta Party volunteer, completed the party’s application and said they got a verbal notification along with a letter saying their application was rejected.

“They said that they’d had a very uncharacteristically high number of applicants for this particular year and they explained that they moved toward a new process to select and review applications — they’ve gone to a jury process — and that the decision was made this year that political parties would not be permitted to march,” Bentley said.

READ MORE: Pride divided: Leadership under pressure as LGBTQ2 community looks to future

Bentley said the letter explained the Alberta Party was assessed as not having enough “LGBTQ-specific content” in the party, which Bentley said was surprising.

Bentley said the party has a strong record of supporting and advocating for issues that are important to LGBTQ individuals and diversity within the community, including gay-straight alliances and conversion therapy. She added that there were many LGBTQ candidates running for the party and working within the organization in the last provincial election.

“We are disappointed that the many people who are both members of this community, or who have loved ones in it, or who self-identify as allies, in time, when a lot of LGBTQ2S people are feeling uncertain or feeling scared and they’re not sure where they can turn to — we really wanted to march to let folks know that we’re here for you too and there are many options that exist for folks who want to see their elected officials reflect their views,” Bentley said.

Bentley said the Alberta Party will likely still be present at the parade even if they’re just there on the sidelines watching the celebrations happen.

Irwin said the NDP wants to speak to Calgary Pride to talk more about the decision and see if they will reconsider. If not, Irwin said members of the party will still be present at the parade in some way to show their support.

“We made it a priority and we’re not going to stop making LGBTQ rights a priority,” Irwin said. “We’re a party made up of allies.”

WATCH: Work begins on permanent Trans, Pride flag crosswalks in downtown Calgary. Josh Ritchie reports.

Calgary Pride did not respond to Global News’ requests for comment on Tuesday on the jury process and the decision to keep political parties from marching in the 2019 parade.

The Alberta Liberal Party did not make anyone available to comment on the refusal on Tuesday.

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