By a strange coincidence Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 11 came to town the same week that Premier Kenney and his Health Minister, Tyler Shandro, explained (sort of) the UCP government’s position on conversion therapy.
Ms Soapbox and her daughters had tickets to the Ru Paul show and were delighted by the drag queens’ performance, the highlight was the Canadian drag queen, Brook Lynn Hytes, upstaging Miss Vanjie, but Ms Soapbox couldn’t shake the memory of a contestant from last season, Dusty Rae Bottoms, describing the devastating consequences of being subjected to conversion therapy and exorcism.
Conversion therapy is a practice aimed at altering a person’s sexual orientation. The UCP government’s position on the practice is incoherent.
Um, well, er…
This lack of clarity became evident when reporters asked Minister Shandro whether he was disbanding or not disbanding the NDP committee set up to look into ways of banning conversion therapy. Mr Shandro’s response was he’d met with members of the committee and a member of the committee “had some questions for me and I look forward to getting back to her in due course”.
When pressed for specifics about the timeline for getting back to the committee Mr Shandro repeated what he’d just said (see above) including the phrase “in due course” about nine times.
When asked what he meant by “in due course” he cast his eyes upward (clearly forgetting what we all learned in high school, the answer isn’t written on the ceiling) and replied in Yoda-speak, “…that in due course I will be getting back to them to be able to answer their questions”. Deer in the headlights, caught he is.
It fell to Ms Notley to try to clarify the government’s position in Question Period. She asked Mr Kenney whether the ad hoc group still existed and whether it would be allowed to carry on its work.
Mr Kenney told the Legislature that “this government opposes abusive or coercive practices such as conversion therapy” and spent the rest of his time berating the NDP for not banning the practice when they were in office, using righteous indignation to hide the fact that he was not prepared to ban the practice himself.
What’s wrong with these people?
Mr Kenney likes to present himself as the 21st century version of Peter Lougheed, protecting Alberta from all who attack her. He could live up to Lougheed’s legacy by focusing on Lougheed’s legislative record.
The first thing Peter Lougheed did upon forming government was repeal The Sexual Sterilization Act because it offended basic human rights. The parallel is obvious. Mr Kenney should have told Ms Notley that he’ll allow the ad hoc committee to finish its work and will pass legislation by the end of 2019 banning the practice he himself describes as “abusive” and “coercive”.
Cat got your tongue?
Mr Shandro has a more difficult problem. Mr Shandro is a lawyer. Lawyers are known for the gift of the gab.
Mr Shandro demonstrated this gift in an article he wrote for Policy Options in 2015 where he discussed the importance of the federal Conservative party attracting immigrant voters in the 2019 federal election.
He used impressive words like “proselytizing” and “hegemony”. He praised Kenney’s “tireless missionary-like zeal” in courting new Canadians and trashed Kenney’s successor, the “hapless” Chris Alexander for creating a situation that led to Harper’s demise through an ill-conceived campaign that focused on the niqab ban, the barbaric cultural practices snitch line, differentiating between “new” stock and “old” stock Canadians and “Harper’s eleventh-hour embrace of racist Rob Ford”.
Based on Mr Shandro’s performance this week it would appear that a politician appointed by Mr Kenney to a cabinet post must not only forget any moral objections he once had to his boss embracing the “racist Rob Ford” but also give up his right to think and speak for himself.
In return for performing like a trained seal Mr Kenney will provide him with all the talking points he needs.
At this point on Ru Paul’s Drag Race Ru Paul would say “the time has come for Mr Sandro to lip sync for his life. Good luck and don’t f*ck it up.”
To help Mr Sandro prepare for his new role, Ms Soapbox would like to offer him a ticket to the Ru Paul show. I’m sure he’ll RSVP in due course.