A scene from the 2016 Edmonton Pride Parade in Old Strathcona (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

While thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, were taking part in Pride events throughout Edmonton today, Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party held a private, conservatives-only “Pride Breakfast” a few blocks from the route of the parade along fashionable Whyte Avenue on the city’s south side.

This reflects the unique problem Mr. Kenney and the UCP have with Pride. Mr. Kenney is a social conservative. His party’s social conservative activist base includes many religious fundamentalists of the “Lake of Fire” persuasion. Mr. Kenney may be one himself. At the same time, the political reality of 21st Century Canada is that many voters will no longer tolerate anti-gay bigotry.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Indeed, it was the infamous Lake of Fire reference by Pastor Allan Hunsperger, a social conservative Wildrose candidate in the 2012 Alberta general election, that is often credited with saving Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservative bacon that year, when the media at least wanted us all to believe the Wildrosers would win.

Mr. Kenney dares not attend the Pride Parade, which has become one of the preeminent political events of the year in Edmonton. And he dares not be missing in action.

What to do?

Ontario Conservative premier elect Doug Ford (Photo: Wilimedia Commons).

The solution his strategic brain trust came up with was the private Pride breakfast before the parade, close enough for those Conservatives so inclined to wander over and watch the event begin. This was the modern day political equivalent of King Solomon’s sage advice to those two rival mothers to saw the disputed baby in half … an Old Testament metaphor that will be familiar to many members of the UCP base.

I don’t know if there was a sign on the door of the McKernan Community Hall six blocks west of the parade start saying “Sarcastic Lake of Fire T-shirts Not Allowed!” Probably anyone who turned up would have known better than to wear such a garment. But surely such a sign would have been appropriate!

Likewise, it is not known by this writer if participants were forced to show their membership card or secret dogwhistle decoder device to get through the door. It did mean, by the way, that the UCP was competing for donations with the official Pride pancake breakfast, which means lots of money was being redirected to a right-wing political party from services for homeless young people.

I’m sure Mr. Kenney was relived when the Edmonton Pride Festival Society declined the UCP’s application to send a conservative delegation to the parade on the official grounds the party was so vague about just what its policies affecting the LGBTQ+ community may be. (Doubtless, the virulent homophobia harboured in some of the darker corners of the party was an unspoken factor.)

Premier Rachel Notley, many Pride Parades ago (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

This was disappointing for political commentators, who would have enjoyed the ensuing ruckus. All the other major party leaders – Premier Rachel Notley, Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel and Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan are walking in the parade.

“We will be hosting a breakfast that morning for members of the United Conservative Party who want to celebrate Pride,” Mr. Kenney told reporters in carefully parsed remarks to journalists at the Alberta Legislature Monday. (Emphasis added.)

“My mom told me not to show up at a party I’m not invited to,” he glibly quipped, “quip” being the journalistic term of art to describe a flip, disingenuous riposte. Well, no one said Mr. Kenney wasn’t clever!

The society’s decision gave Mr. Kenney the excuse to blow off having to turn up at Pride as a bolder social conservative leader would have done – I give you, Doug Ford, the premier elect of Canada’s largest province and public face and natural leader of Canada’s 21st Century conservative movement, eclipsing more cautious Canadian conservatives just as President Donald Trump has eclipsed their American peers.

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  1. Actually it was the entire UCP that was barred from attending the pride parade. So much for inclusion, diversity, tolerance, and acceptance!

    1. This response is so typical.
      Tell me Taylor, how inclusive, diverse, tolerant, and accepting is the UCP?
      Your comment is an illustration of what George Orwell had to say, “actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them”.
      It’s almost like there’s a different standard or something.

    2. The UCP wasn’t banned from attending the parade. No one is barred from attending. The UCP simply wasn’t permitted to march in the parade due to a history of anti-LGBT policies and actions.

    3. While it is always wise and gracious to be tolerant, accepting and inclusive, you are not obligated to continue doing so to anyone who has shown no willingness to return the kindness.

  2. From the look of the photos Mr. Kenny’s little bbq did not set any attendance records for a Pride event. I think even the smaller parties had more people and more enthusiasm in their Pride participation.

    Mr. Kenny’s event had the look of something from the early 80’s as far as I could see from the pictures. Of course its hard to say for those of us not invited. I am guessing not even his mom was there. The turnout might cause one to wonder about Kenney’s much vaunted skills as a political organizer, although in fairness to him perhaps he doesn’t know many gay people or at least not many that will disclose that to him.

    I am guessing even though this event was a safe distance from the rest of the Pride festivities, even most UCP staffers opted to be out of town this weekend, sort of like Kenney did in all previous years.

  3. You fuquerkers make me sick! Sideline whiners! Jerks! Simpering facks! Get lost! What have you ever risked? Done? Paid? You losers! Jerk wad sunday beach sailors!! The lot of you!!

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