Some Conservative leadership candidates Erin O'Toole, Marilyn Gladu, and Peter MacKay superimposed in front of blinking Pride flags.
Credit: The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand, The Canadian Press/Justin Tang, The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick, Soifer/iStock / Getty Images Plus; Francesca Roh/Xtra
Salty Queers
4 min

Forget marching. Conservative leadership hopefuls should run Pride Toronto

They’ll really get to know the queers whose votes they want!

ICYMI, Conservative party leadership candidate Peter MacKay pulled a Kylie Jenner circa 2016 and “realized stuff” this week.

On Jan. 28, MacKay announced in a press release that he’d march in Toronto’s Pride parade this year—because “Pride parades are important.”

But he’s not the only one. Other leadership hopefuls quickly hopped on the Pride bandwagon: Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu also said she’d march, while Conservative faithful and MP Erin O’Toole said he would participate, too, but only if police, “his uniformed friends,” as he put it, could join him. What a picky queen.

But forget just marchingthat’s so 2016! With Pride Toronto on the hunt for a new executive director, these leadership candidates could take their queer embrace one step further and become the next ED of one of the largest Pride festivals in the world and, you know, really rub elbows with the gays. Toronto Pride even takes place the same weekend as the Conservative Party leadership convention. A marriage of convenience!

Here are some leadership hopefuls we think could do quite the job as Pride’s new ED.

Peter MacKay

Peter MacKay is back—this time, with new realizations that he’s more than willing to assert:

MacKay was a former cabinet minister and Progressive Conservative leader who has a history of changing his stance about the queers. In 2003, as the Liberal government was planning to legalize same-sex unions, then Conservative leader Stephen Harper introduced a motion to the House of Commons to preserve the definition of marriage as the “union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.” MacKay voted in favour of that motion.

In a speech, MacKay said: “I do not believe we should change the legal definition, but I do see that same-sex couples should be afforded all the rights and privileges of married couples. And domestic registered partnerships or a definition such as that would allow for this: equal treatment. To be able to say one has ‘similar’ does not mean distinctive, special or more or less. It does not negate or entitled to more or less.” Translation: You can have some of the same rights we do but don’t be greedy, Mary.

However, MacKay turned the other cheek and changed his position. In 2006, he voted against a motion that sought to restore the more traditional definition of marriage. And now, MacKay pushed the envelope more by proclaiming that Pride parades are “important.” Tbh, we love an evolving queen! 👑

And in the spirit of growth, MacKay should truly go for it and try to be the next executive director of Pride Toronto. We look forward to his next epiphany! 

Erin O’Toole

Erin O’Toole wants you to know his attendance at Pride is possible but conditional.

In a statement (which is formatted like a Tumblr poem), the Ontario MP said: “I will not participate in the Toronto Pride Parade while its policy is to exclude Canadians, especially uniformed police officers.” Do you just love it when straight politicians give conditions to join a v gay party? And honestly, it’s not like the relationship between Pride and uniformed police is contentious or whatever. 👀

Who invited Erin to this dinner party? No one. But he showed up with all of his bros anyway.

Good news, pal: As ED of Pride Toronto, you can invite whomever you’d like. Let’s get some cops and maybe a tank or two in the parade, stat.

Marilyn Gladu

Marilyn Gladu has heard your calls, fellow queers! She knows you want her to march in Pride!

“The LGBTQ community has been clear that in order to believe that the leader, and the prime minister, is going to stand up for their rights and freedoms, it’s important to march,” the Ontario MP said in Ottawa this week.

For some reason, though, she forgot to address all of those other big issues you mentioned—like ending conversion therapy on a national scale, putting an end to the blood ban against men who have sex with men, re-assessing HIV non-disclosure laws that disproportionately criminalize queer and trans Canadians, tackling the LGBTQ2 youth homelessness problem and all of that other stuff.

Oh yes, because not paying attention to detail really worked for Pride Toronto in the past 🍵. Let Marilyn march—and she’ll fit right in 💃🥁

Richard Décarie

Richard Décarie is the man who sparked much of the conversation about queer rights among leadership hopefuls when he told the world he believed being gay is a choice.

Things that are actually a choice:

✔ Running in a leadership race.

✔ Picking the colour of your tie

✔ Your suit.

✔ This leather jacket.

The right choice? Becoming Pride Toronto’s new ED—and maybe learning a thing or two about The Gays.

Derek Sloan

Sure, Derek Sloan may be a Décarie apologist—in an interview with CTV’s Evan Solomon, the rookie Conservative MP said science has yet to prove that being gay is not a choice. And yes, he said he wouldn’t have voted for Bill C-16, which enshrines protections for trans and gender non-conforming Canadians into law, had he been in Parliament then. But we have to give props to Sloan for his deep, deep insights into sexual orientation: “If you actually look into the research surrounding sexuality, there’s a lot going on there.”

There is, indeed, a lot going on there! Thanks, Derek! And with that knowledge, you could run Pride Toronto! 🌈