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David Khan could be first out gay politician in Alberta’s legislature

Albertans head to polls May 5 to vote in tight race

Calgary-Buffalo Liberal candidate David Khan could be the first openly gay politician to serve in Alberta’s legislature. Credit: Jordan Gooden

When Albertans head to the polls on May 5, they may make history — in more ways than one.

No openly LGBT politician has ever been elected to Alberta’s provincial legislature. But David Khan, a Liberal candidate for Calgary-Buffalo, hopes to change that.

“It is amazing for our community and for Alberta,” he tells Daily Xtra one week before the election.

Calgary voters have by and large favoured the Progressive Conservative (PC) party — before the election was called, the PCs held a majority of the ridings in Calgary and have led Alberta’s government for 43 years.  

But Khan, a Calgary native who practises Aboriginal Law, has better odds in Calgary-Buffalo. The riding is currently held by Kent Hehr, a Liberal who has decided to run in the federal election this year.

It’s also not Khan’s first election effort — he ran in the 2014 by-election in Calgary-West, where he lost to PC candidate Mike Ellis — but he is feeling positive about this election cycle.

Khan says that Albertans, especially in his riding in downtown Calgary, are far more progressive than people give them credit for. “More progressives are getting engaged and are tired of this 45-year-old, corrupt, old-guard party running our province and not following the wishes of a large majority of Albertans.”

That progressive view extends to the LGBT community. “[There are] lots of people living here who don’t have your old grandpa’s views on the subject.”

PC “flip-flops” on a bill that would have mandated gay-straight alliances (GSA) in Alberta schools show that the tide is changing, Khan says.

After two separate efforts by the Liberals to introduce GSA legislation, the Tories introduced their own GSA legislation, Bill 10. It was met with public outcry because of provisions that may have forced students to go to court in order to have a GSA if denied one by their school, a costly move that could have the effect of outing them.

The Tories did amend the legislation so that GSAs must be formed in any school, Catholic or public, if students request one.

“It was abundantly clear that Albertans were angry with this government,” Khan says, noting that the Liberals played a pivotal role in getting the issue on the table.

However, there are no guarantees this election. The NDP and Wildrose parties have made this one of the most watched provincial elections in recent memory; recent polls show that both parties are well-positioned to take the leadership of the province from the PCs.

Khan faces his own challenge in his riding; he is running against PC candidate Terry Rock. According to the Calgary Herald’s James Wood, this will be a hard-fought riding in the Alberta election.

But Khan has a simple goal — to represent his community. “I’m excited about being able to continue the good work of our MLAs and party on those issues, and representing our community here in downtown Calgary.”