With the nomination period for the 2011 federal election now closed, the NDP has emerged as the party with the largest number of queer candidates running for office. Ten openly gay, lesbian or bisexual candidates are standing for office under the NDP banner — more than for all the other national parties combined.
The Green Party says it has five openly gay candidates running in the election. The Liberals and Conservatives both say that they do not keep records of their candidates’ sexual orientations, races or religious affiliations, but three incumbent Liberals seeking reelection are openly gay.
The Conservatives have run openly gay candidates in the past, but not this time around. And they’ve never had an openly gay member of Parliament.
Libby Davies is the only incumbent queer New Democrat seeking reelection. She’s trying to hold on to the NDP stronghold of Vancouver East, which she’s represented since 1997.
The gay candidate with the best shot at picking up a seat for the NDP is likely Randall Garrison, running in the suburban Victoria riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. That riding has featured tight three-way races in the past and is an open race, as the incumbent is not seeking reelection. Garrison, an instructor at Camosun College, has run for the NDP twice before in the riding, placing a close second in 2000 and 2004.
Two Greater Vancouver ridings have queer candidates. In Vancouver Quadra, cardiac technician Victor Elkins must carve out space for the NDP in a Liberal stronghold where the Conservatives are the main opposition. In Langley, nurse Piotr Majkowski is running in a Conservative stronghold.
Among the other queer candidates running for the NDP is Patrice Miniely, in St-Boniface, Manitoba. Miniely has previously worked as a constituency assistant to two MLAs and a city councillor and is currently a law student at the University of Manitoba. She’s also served as a volunteer with the Winnipeg Pride Committee, of which she was once the chair and festival coordinator. She faces an uphill battle in a riding where the NDP haven’t done better than third place in decades.
Carrying the NDP flag in the Southwestern Ontario riding of Wellington-Halton Hills is Anastasia Zavarella, a recent graduate from Guelph who works in the university’s Central Student Association and has been active with Guelph Queer Equity and the Awareness of Sexual Assault Prevention Committee.
Two gay men are running for the NDP in Quebec: Dany Morin in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord and Philip Toone in Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine. Morin is a chiropractor who lives in Laterrière, and Toone ran for the NDP in the 2004 election. Both ridings are long shots for the NDP, which has never crested above 10 percent of the vote in either.
In Toronto, the NDP is running queer high school teacher Michael Erickson in Etobicoke-Lakeshore against Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, and lesbian teacher Diana Andrews in Etobicoke North. Both races are against incumbents in Liberal strongholds.
The Green Party’s five out candidates include medical writer Rosemary Frei in the Toronto riding of York Centre; two-spirited filmmaker and First Nations community worker Eliza Knockwood in Charlottetown; software developer Jonathan Meijer in Gatineau, Quebec; organic farmer Robin Fortin in Drummond, Quebec; and Michael Di Pardo in the Montreal riding of Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel.