My heart sank when I heard the news. After all the suspense, all the reversals and all but the last judicial recount, Lorne Mayencourt squeaked through with 18 votes to most likely keep his seat in Vancouver-Burrard, Jun 1.
Just 24 hours earlier, I’d woken up to him telling CBC radio-and sounding for all the world like a bitter, defeated incumbent-that he felt abandoned by the gay community.
People throw tomatoes at me now in the Pride Parade, he said.
“There’s some sense of abandonment, of disappointment that I feel towards the gay community,” he continued, his voice strong and clear through my tinny bedside radio.
I sat bolt upright.
He feels abandoned and disappointed? I rubbed my eyes, convinced I must have heard wrong.
What about all the queers who were counting on him to recommend concrete measures to counter homophobia in his 2003 Safe Schools Task Force report?
What about all the queers who were disgusted by his tough-on-crime ploy to drive panhandlers off the streets? What about all the queers who have been hurt by cuts to social programs implemented by his government?
Besides, why would a candidate still in the midst of a very close race risk alienating a huge portion of his potential voters?
It must be a bad dream, I thought.
I later heard the whole clip. “I’m not a right-winger. The minute I became a Liberal, I was an asshole. I’m not an asshole,” he told CBC.
“I come here every day to do a job for all of the people. And yet the gay community thought I should only deal with their issues.”
He went on to say that he had dealt with the gay community’s issues, but it was never enough.
Two days later, results in hand, Xtra West editor/reporter Matt Mills asked Mayencourt if he still feels abandoned by the gay community. “Absolutely,” he replied. “I do.”
Then he qualified that he mostly feels abandoned by Xtra West and the gay media.
By the end of the interview, he had backpedaled even further. “No, I don’t feel abandoned by the gay community,” he said. “I wasn’t saying that. I was referring to the gay media.”
I see. Well, that should come as a relief to all his queer constituents who will most likely have to rely on him, once again, for a voice in Victoria.
Then again, Mayencourt also told Mills that he feels “humbled” by the whole experience and has thought a lot about the close margin-and “how important it is for myself to reach out to communities who might feel disaffected or that their concerns aren’t being heard.”
He plans to build bridges, he says, and reach out to the gay community.
Really? While that can’t just erase my misgivings-or Mayencourt’s record over the last four years or his ongoing tendency to backpedal-it does sound encouraging.
And I’m all for second chances. Scrutinized second chances.
“My first order of business is to pass the Safe Schools Act because I believe it is time for the government to stand up and require school districts actually deal with issues of homophobia, racism, and sexism.”
That’s the act that, if passed, will actually plug a significant hole in BC’s school system. If Mayencourt gets his way, every school in the province will be required to not only implement a code of conduct but to specifically add sections prohibiting harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
That’s something queer education activists have been demanding for years. And Mayencourt sounds genuinely determined to give it to them-now.
As far as I can tell, the bill didn’t start out requiring the codes of conduct but, hey, it’s in there now. And he sounds determined to get it passed.
And I, for one, will support him on this.
Mayencourt has also promised to keep St Paul’s Hospital in its current West End location, and he told Mills that he believes The Centre needs a stronger presence, too.
Again, that all sounds great and worthy of support. I’m not sure I can count on him, but I guess I’m willing to try.
We are, after all, most likely stuck with each other for another four years. Might as well make the best of it.