A former opponent of same-sex marriage, LGBT rights and abortion rights who’s now running for city council says those issues that he once fought against in Parliament are “dead” and shouldn’t cause queer people concern over his move to municipal politics.
Jim Karygiannis, who was the Liberal MP for Scarborough-Agincourt from 1988 until earlier this year, when he resigned to run for the Ward 39 city council seat vacated by Mike Del Grande, has a long career record of voting against his party on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to including gay and trans people in Canada’s human rights legislation. He also recently had a falling out with Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau over Trudeau’s edict that all future candidates must vote in favour of a woman’s right to access abortion.
But Karygiannis says none of these issues should cause concern for progressive municipal voters, as the city doesn’t have any control over these issues and fights like same-sex marriage are settled.
“That’s over and done with. That’s history. People have the right to live the lifestyle they need. The rights of individuals should be respected and celebrated,” he says. “Should I be invited to take part in the gay pride parade or raise the Pride flag, I’ll be front and centre.”
When asked if he regrets voting against LGBT rights in the past, he says, “That was a time that a choice had to be made. I made my choice; I voted in that particular way. That’s it — it’s over. It’s finished. Let’s move on. You can’t go back and reopen the votes and say this didn’t happen.”
Karygiannis last voted against a failed bill to add trans people to Canada’s Human Rights Code in 2011. He has been absent from all votes on the most recent bill to add gender identity to the Human Rights Code.
If elected, Karygiannis says he wants to focus on extending the subway along Sheppard, protecting Scarborough Grace Hospital, fixing gridlock and improving security and safety.
“People south of the 401 are getting a subway. Are you trying to tell me that the people north of the 401 are children of a lesser god?” he asks.
Eight other people are on the ballot in Ward 39.