Transgender
2 min

It doesn’t get better for Pride funding

Given that the Conservatives have
apparently seen the light when it comes to standing up for the rights of queer
Canadians, what with their It Gets Better video and all, Scott Brison decided to test that
theory in question period today.

Brison: Mr Speaker, the Conservatives have
fought and voted against every advancement of gay rights in Canada, from
pension benefits to marriage to transgender rights, yet yesterday, the
Conservatives came out in support of the It Gets Better gay youth campaign. If the Conservatives are now serious about
helping gay youth, will they recognize the support that Pride festivals provide
to struggling young gays? Will the Conservatives restore the funding that they
themselves cut for these important Pride festivals across Canada?

Calandra: Mr Speaker, I will reiterate the
answer we said earlier. This government has provided extraordinary
amounts of funding in the arts and culture sector across this country, and we
are very proud to do so. In my own riding and ridings across this country
festivals are being supported. We get a lot of applications for a lot of
different things. We support a lot of different cultural festivals in
communities across Canada. We look at all of those applications on their merit
and we support the ones that Canadians ask us to support and the ones that meet
the criteria of the programs that we establish.

The unspoken message was that we don’t fund
Pride festivals because they’re not “family friendly,” which has been the
pattern that this government has followed in no longer funding Pride
festivals or other events like the Black & Blue party in Montreal. Also note that
it was Paul Calandra, the parliamentary secretary for the heritage minister
that answered, and not John Baird, who has tended lately to be the de facto
government spokesperson on queer issues.

A few minutes later, this exchange happened between Baird and NDP queer issues critic Randall Garrison:

Garrison: Mr Speaker, my question is for
the minister of foreign affairs on the urgency of getting the Commonwealth to
address lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. 
Remember, in 41 of 54 member states, being
gay is still illegal. The prime minister of Britain and the Australian foreign
minister have now spoken out strongly, saying this issue must be on the agenda
for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting. Will the minister now make the same clear
commitment and ensure that these basic human rights are a priority at the
Commonwealth meetings next week in Perth?

Baird: Mr Speaker, I want to thank my
colleague opposite for the question. Human rights will be front and centre at
the Commonwealth summit next week in Perth, Australia. We will be considering
the adoption of the eminent persons' report of the Commonwealth, where Senator
Hugh Segal assisted, with nine other leaders in the Commonwealth. The rights of gays and lesbians are
tremendously important. It is completely unacceptable that homosexuality
continues to be criminalized in a majority of Commonwealth countries, and we
will certainly take that issue to the summit.

In other words, it’s okay if this
government promotes the rights of queers abroad to a basic minimum level, but
doing anything more at home is off the table.

(Gay NDP MP Philip Toone also made a
statement on farmers whose land had been expropriated and had a question on the cuts at the Department
of Fisheries and Oceans; however, as they were in French and have not been
translated, one will have to wait for tomorrow’s Hansard to read them.)

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