After a roller-coaster campaign season filled with Blackface revelations and reruns of the marriage equality debate, it was a nail-biter of a finish to the 2019 federal election. While the Liberals and Conservatives remained neck and neck in the polls in the final weeks of the campaign, the former prevailed with a minority government.
In September, Xtra surveyed candidates and found that 74 openly LGBTQ2 folks were running to win a seat in the country’s 43rd Parliament—the highest number in history. But few were poised to actually win a seat.
From six gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer MPs in the 42nd Parliament, we’re now down to four. Here are the newly elected queer MPs.
Liberal, St. John’s South–Mount Pearl
This is Seamus O’Regan’s second term in office as a Liberal MP. O’Regan was elected in St. John’s South–Mount Pearl, N.L., in 2015, serving first as Minister of Veterans Affairs and then Minister of Indigenous Services (taking over Jane Philpott’s role after her resignation from the Liberal cabinet in March).
O’Regan was formerly a television journalist, hosting Canada AM from 2001 to 2011. He was also a correspondent for CTV National News until 2012.
Conservative, Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry
In February, Eric Duncan was nominated to run for the Conservatives in the Ontario riding of Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry. He replaced the riding’s retiring Conservative MP Guy Lauzon.
Since 2004, Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry has been a solidly Conservative riding. Duncan had his start in politics at 18 when he was elected councillor in North Dundas. In 2010, Duncan was elected as mayor at 22.
In his election promise, Duncan said he’ll “advocate for policies that help grow our small businesses and promote Canadian agriculture.”
Liberal, Don Valley West
Rob Oliphant was first elected as the MP for Don Valley West in 2008. After a term, Oliphant left to be the President and CEO of the Asthma Society of Canada. In 2015, Oliphant ran under Trudeau’s Liberals.
During his previous term, Oliphant served in various roles such as co-chair of the House of Commons and Senate Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and as chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. In 2019, Oliphant served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.
In Xtra’s survey, Oliphant said when elected, he’ll raise questions about the “science behind Canada Blood Services’ screening of blood donors, particularly gay men.” He said: “The nature of the screening bothers me greatly and I believe it is wrong and discriminatory. I am very happy that the Liberal Party is promising in this election to end the ban altogether, and will move forward in partnership with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec to support the implementation of a behaviour-based model that eliminates the ban once and for all.”
Randall Garrison is coming into his third term as MP for the B.C. riding of Esquimalt–Saanich–Sooke. Garrison is best known for his role as the NDP critic on LGBTQ2 issues, and introducing legislation to protect trans and non-binary Canadians.
When asked what issues he would champion if re-elected, Garrison told Xtra in response to our questionnaire that he would work to “secure action on all of the issues I worked on in the last Parliament,” including lifting the ban on blood donations for men who have sex with men, banning conversion therapy nationally, improving access to gender-affirming healthcare for trans and non-binary Canadians, and creating a path to safety for LGBTQ2 refugees heading to Canada.
On queer representation, Garrison was adamant that on improvement. “The last parliament had only five out gay men and one lesbian,” he says. “We can and must do better, both in numbers and in the diversity of those representing our community.”