Responding to Orlando

Can we talk about that which cannot be named?

On June 12 forty-nine people were massacred at a nightclub in Orlando.

Alberta’s political leaders expressed their horror at the senseless slaughter.

All but one of the politicians recognized that the victims were members of the LGBTQ community.

Politicians respond

Premier Notley tweeted her government’s solidarity with the LGBTQ community and lit the Legislature building with Pride colours.  On the night of the slaughter Ms Notley, Ricardo Miranda (a member of the group she affectionately calls her “MLgAys”) and other supporters were at an event at a Calgary gay bar.

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Premier Notley and MLA Ricardo Miranda

Liberal leader David Swann expressed his sympathy for the victims and their loved ones saying “this heinous act against the LGBTQ community reminds us that the battle for unconditional equality and acceptance is not won and that we must all stand strong against discrimination and hostility.”

Alberta Party Greg Clark was heartbroken and said there was “still work to do to ensure #LGBTQ community [is] truly equal.”

Even PC leader Ric McIver stepped up and tweeted “So sad to hear of mass shooting at Orlando LGBTQ club. 50 people murdered.  Many more wounded. Hate cannot prevail.”

Only Brian Jean, the leader of the Wildrose, ignored the fact the victims were LGBTQ, tweeting: “Praying for the families of those killed and injured by such a vicious act of hatred and terror in Orlando this morning”.  But for the reference to Orlando he could have been tweeting about any number of random shootings that occur with heartbreaking regularity in the United States.

Why the lack of recognition that the victims were LGBTQ?

Because if Mr Jean wants to stay on as leader of the Wildrose party he needs to stay true to the Wildrose base.

The official word on discrimination Wildrose style

Mr Jean’s vague statement of condolence is consistent with the party’s decision to reject (twice) a principle that expressly protects the rights and freedoms of Albertans, regardless of their race, religion, colour, gender, physical or mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital or family status, source of income, or sexual orientation.

The Wildrose says it’s already covered in its utterly meaningless promise to defend the rights and freedoms of “all persons” in section 2.2 of the Wildrose Constitution.

Read it and you’ll find “all persons” really means “citizens” (apparently landed immigrants, temporary foreign workers and refugees don’t count).

Read a little further and you’ll find a promise to protect the right to life, safety, liberty and privacy and the freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, property ownership and advocacy on public policies which reflect “their deeply held values”, but no protection from discrimination if a citizen exercising his right to, say property ownership, violates another citizen’s right to be free from discrimination in access to housing on the basis of sexual orientation (or race or gender for that matter).

Welcome to the bizarro world of the Wildrose Constitution.

No rights without protection

But wait, you say, the Wildrose Constitution says all citizens are equal before the law and entitled to fundamental justice.

That’s true, but as Mr Vriend discovered when he was fired by an Edmonton college for being gay, being told that you have equal and inalienable rights and actually having them are two different things when the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation is missing from the legislation intended to protect you from discrimination in the first place.

The Supreme Court of Canada ultimately resolved the case in Mr Vriend’s favour by reading the words “sexual orientation” into the Alberta Individual Rights Protection Act.

Courts can “read in” protection from discrimination, the public cannot.

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Wildrose Leader Brian Jean

All the public can do is scrutinize the actions of the political parties to see whether their promise to protect the public’s rights and freedoms are borne out in reality.

The Base and the Squishes

A rift has developed between the traditional Wildrose base and more moderate party members (the “squishes”) who want the party to become more progressive in the hopes of winning the next election.

The base is convinced that shifting even slightly to the centre is a mistake and if it sticks to the “old values” Albertans will come back to them.

One of these “old values” is a refusal to kowtow to the 1.5% of the population who is LGBTQ (gosh, before you know it your Christian school will be forced to allow transgendered students into the washrooms!)

Mr Jean hopes to stay on as party leader.  As such he’s trying to appease the base without driving away the squishes by making it blatantly obvious that the Wildrose is not the party for them.

The Wildrose base and squishes will battle this out over the coming months.

In the meantime Albertans should ask themselves:  what does it say about the Official Opposition—the government in waiting—when its leader is prepared to pray for the families of the LGBTQ people who were slaughtered on June 12 but not the LGBTQ victims themselves?

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16 Responses to Responding to Orlando

  1. Rose says:

    On June 12 forty-nine members of the LGBTQ community were massacred at a nightclub in Orlando. What does it say about us if we do not acknowledge those poor souls for who they were as this is why they were so senselessly murdered. If you can’t say the words out loud it means that they are still being forced into the closet.

    I thought we were past that by now and if we are not, we should be. No one has the right to pass judgement on another person. My life is my own and I should never be looked down on for being proud of myself and what I do.

    • Exactly Rose. What’s both saddening and frightening is the Wildrose’s belief that Albertans have temporarily lost their minds but will “come back” given enough time. The base is so fixated on this that they actually punished Danielle Smith, their first leader, for marching in the Pride parade here in Calgary. Smith says she found out after the 2014 by-election that the Wildrose put out a push poll (constituents got a robocall asking which party they were voting for, if they said Wildrose, they got a message saying “Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and some of her MLAs marched in Pride where men dressed in women’s underwear and danced in front of children. Is this consistent with your values?” She thought the PCs were behind it and was stunned to discover that the poll was bought and paid for by Wildrose organizers and sponsors. They’d rather lose the by-election than let Danielle get away with marching in the Pride parade. Unbelievable, but it tells you an awful lot about the kind of people in that party. http://www.newstalk770.com/2016/06/10/129793/

  2. Carlos Beca says:

    Typical Wildrose behavior. Nothing new. They just never explain or know for sure what is their stand. They always vague just in case. That is what they are doing again. Lots of noise but no substance.
    Brian Jean just cannot admit he does not approve of the Gay community. Just to much for his cowboy mentality. Would be nice to see him admitting something for a change.
    It will not happen though.
    You are asking for too much Susan. He only knows one line and that is pushing.
    ‘We do not raise taxes’ – that is his politics. I believe the Sun newspaper told him so.

    • Carlos: In a way I’m glad the WR base is pushing so hard. It’s important for the unsuspecting public to understand that the hardcore “old values” crowd is still pulling the strings in that party. I still remember how close the WR came to getting elected in 2012. It wasn’t until the 11th hour discovery that the WR was running homophobic candidates like Allen “lake of fire” Hunsperger that they dropped in the polls giving the win to the PCs because there was no other viable alternative.
      It will be interesting to see what happens if Jason Kenny appears on the scene to “unite the right”. Both McIver and Jean said that’s not going to happen but the Globe yesterday reported that Kenny says he will decide by the end of summer whether to go for the federal leadership or try to forge a “united alternative” to Alberta’s NDP. Kenny is much slicker than Jean and McIver and should be able to take them out of the picture, the big question is whether Alberta’s conservatives are prepared to gamble on another drop-in federal politician after the Prentice debacle.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I might that Jason Kenney, although much slicker, his ideas are way closer to the Wildrose than to the PCs. He just manipulates people with way more class.
        What bothers me about the Wildrose and others like them (i.e. Harper and Cia) is that they tell us that they are progressive to get in and then just show their true colours which for the most part are just extreme right wing.

  3. Jim says:

    I take exception to the fact that the comments of the majority of the Alberta Political Party Leaders making reference to the “LGBTQ Community”. By doing so is profiling a specific group of individuals. We are all human beings, regardless of religion, race or sexual preference. Had the tragedy occurred at a Non Gay Club, would these political leaders have referred the casualties as “Heterosexual victims. I think not! I believe that Mr. Jean did the right thing in providing his condolences in a way that does not profile the victims according to their sexual preference. Mr Jean was right while in my opinion the other leaders were wrong.

    • Interesting point Jim, but that’s not how my gay friends viewed it. They felt Pulse was targeted precisely because it was an LGBTQ club.

      • GoinFawr says:

        So if a character like Scott Thompson’s ‘Buddy Cole’ went postal and wiped out a club full of straight people simply because he thought they were straight you’re saying the victims’ sexual preference might warrant a mention if that was the reason for their being targeted?

        Despite his comment somehow I’d wager Jim would agree.

      • GoinFawr: I’ll join you in that bet. If Buddy Cole went postal and wiped out a club full of straight people because they were straight the fact they were straight and he was gay would be relevant and should be reported because it would be a hate crime. When Marc Lepine murdered 14 women, 12 of them engineering students, in 1989, he left a suicide note blaming feminists for ruining his life. The fact he was male and they were female was relevant. When Dylann Roof murdered 9 black men and women (a child survived by pretending to be dead) in the Charleston church massacre in order to start a race war the fact that he was white and they were black was relevant.
        These are all hate crimes and the sex, sexual orientation and race of those murdered and those doing the murdering must be reported if we’re serious about making this stop.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Jim, that is your opinion and I fully respect it, but I do not think that Bryan Jean was avoiding profiling the victims. That is the least of his concerns.
      I agree with you that this issue of sexual preferences has already gone too far and I am sure that no one would refer to the men as ‘heterosexual’ victims. Humans seem incapable of doing anything without profound exaggeration. We now have to be bombarded with gay everything. The fact that some nut hates them is not any different than other nuts that hate women or homeless or religious people…etc. I much more respect lesbian women that slowly get the freedom and respect they deserve but do not
      create a circus around it.

      • Carlos: I think everyone deserves to get the freedom and respect they deserve whether they create a circus around it or not. The early suffragettes didn’t just chain themselves to lampposts. They set fire to mail boxes, burned the places where men gathered like cricket pitches and race tracks and set off explosions in Westminster Abbey. They were imprisoned and denounced as hysterical sexual deviants. If we’ve learned one thing throughout the course of history it’s this: it takes dramatic action to convince the white men in power that they don’t control you.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan I fully agree with you and I know very well what it takes to change the status quo but what I am referring to is that Gays now have freedom to do what any other person can do. Yes there are obstacles but in my personal opinion it is at this stage totally unnecessary to have gay parades, special gay sport events ……etc. This is where I have an issue not on their rights. If they want to be citizens like the rest of us they should as much as possible participate in the events that we all do regardless of what gender or what sexual preferences one has. I am sorry but I do not see any advantage in this kind of segregation that will make things worse. This is just my opinion. I think that we all have different views about these difficult issues.

        Political Ranger – If there is an aberration in the politics of Alberta, it is the fact that we have had the same party in power for 43 years. If that is not an aberration I wonder what it is.

  4. anonymous says:

    All my tears have been used up.

  5. political ranger says:

    When these are the people who have been in power for the last 2 generations, it says that what we have now is an aberration, a short and sweet aberration.

    • Good point political ranger, social democracy has been around in Alberta for a long time. The CCF party was born in Calgary (of all places) in 1932, but it took 83 years for social democrats to form government. I’m hoping this will be more than a “short and sweet aberration”. We’ll see.

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