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Canadians would vote for gay leader: poll

Conservatives and Albertans warming to the idea of a queer prime minister

Conservative cabinet minister John Baird (left) smiles for the camera at Ottawa's Pride celebration in 2009. Credit: (Remi Theriault)

A recent polls show that Canadians are overwhelming okay with 24 Sussex Drive going a little queer.

Two-thirds of Canadians asked by Forum Research told the pollster that they would have no problem with a gay party leader, and the same number said they would have no issues voting for a gay Prime Minister.

That majority tends to hold across age, income, marital status and education demographics. Older Canadians tend to be a little less supportive, while more than 70 percent of those from 18 to 34 years old have no issue voting for a gay leader.

Only two groups aren't thrilled about making the Prime Minister's job a little more fabulous — Conservatives and Albertans. Even still, the Tories and the Stetson-loving Alberta voters are warming up to the idea, with about 45 percent saying they have no qualms casting their ballot for a gay or lesbian seeking the top job, and 38 percent say they're cool to the idea.

Those who hold a membership card with the Conservatives — which comprised a very small subsample — proved less caught up in which gender a prime minister may or may not be attracted to: fully 59 percent of registered Tories are accepting of the notion.

Support for a homosexual at the helm of the governing caucus is highest amongst New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois supporters, at 80 percent. Bloc supporters have already experimented with openly gay Andre Boisclair, who led the sovereigntists' provincial counterpart from 2005 to 2007. Liberals, who can brag that they decriminalized sodomy and introduced gay marriage in the House, are a little less supportive, at 73 percent.

Quebec and Atlantic Canada are the most open to voting for a candidate who might happen to be a butch or a pansy, with 76 and 74 percent respectively in favour. British Columbia, Ontario and the Prairies are right behind them in the mid-60s, with Alberta taking up the rear.

Women proved 14 points more likely to be okay with backing a gay leader, with only 60 percent of men comfortable with the idea.

Canada has never had a gay person in the top job, but it now has one at the provincial level — Ontario Liberals just propelled lesbian leader Kathleen Wynne into the premiership.

The question could soon be more than hypothetical, as all three major federal parties have seen gay MPs rise through their ranks in recent years — even if not all of them are out, yet.

The Tories, long seen to be dragging their heels on queer issues, could be the ones making history. With Harper's leadership of the Conservative Party nearing its 10th anniversary, the party could see a leadership race before the others. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, whose homosexuality is an open secret, seems well-placed if he were to seek the gig. And he's not the only one.

If Canada does elect a gay prime minister, it would join the leagues of Iceland and Belgium, two countries that have already sworn in openly gay leaders.