RADIA: Premier Clark is no homophobe

FACE TO FACE: Should Christy Clark have marched in Vancouver Pride Parade?

Premier Christy Clark is under fire for not participating in last weekend’s Pride Parade in downtown Vancouver.

The premier did attend but, unlike her NDP counterpart, she didn’t march as part of the procession. And, according to the media, a lot of the public and my colleague opposite, that’s somehow a problem.

What I would like to know is when did become a requirement for politicians to participate in Pride Week. And why does not participating automatically come with allegations of being homophobic or against gay rights?

If the premier doesn’t attend an event at the Italian Cultural Centre, does that mean she doesn’t like Italians?

There are a lot of reasons Premier Clark might not have participated.

Perhaps it doesn’t fit in her schedule — I hear the job of premier is pretty time consuming.

Maybe she doesn’t want to be seen participating in a non-family friendly event. (Call me a prude but I don’t think a parade that includes scantily dressed people making out with each other — whatever their sexual orientation — is considered family friendly.)

Or, like my colleague opposite suggests, maybe Clark was just playing to her political base.

And if she was, so what? That’s what politicians do.

But to imply, as some people have, that Clark is a homophobe or that she won’t stand up for gay rights is simply ridiculous.

It’s important to remember that Clark doesn’t have a history of insensitivity toward gay issues.

She was the one who took the initiative to bring Pink Shirt Day to British Columbia when she was a talk show host with CKNW. Now, every year in February, thousands of school kids, teachers and members of the general public wear the colour pink to stand in solidarity against bullying, an issue that greatly impacts the LGBT community.

Moreover, Clark isn’t the first politician not to attend the annual event. Her predecessor Gordon Campbell never attended; Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto doesn’t participate in his city’s annual parade; and quite frankly, I can’t even imagine Prime Minister Stephen Harper attending one.

Just as Campbell’s and Harper’s lack of attendance never translated into a retraction of gay rights, neither will Premier Clark’s.

Andy Radia is a Coquitlam resident and political columnist who writes for Yahoo! Canada News and Vancouver View Magazine. He has been politically active in the Tri-Cities, having been involved with election campaigns at all three levels of government, including running for Coquitlam city council in 2005.


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