Pride parade gets political

The weather may have been cool and wet but the annual Calgary Pride parade managed to generate some political heat on Sunday.

Mayoral candidate turns attendance into campaign issue

The weather may have been cool and wet, but the annual Calgary Pride parade managed to generate some political heat.

Kent Hehr, a Liberal MLA who is running for mayor, made an issue of the fact opponent Ric McIver did not attend the annual Calgary Pride Parade on Sunday. ((CBC))
Mayoral candidate Kent Hehr posted an invitation on his website "challenging" one of his opponents, Calgary Coun. Ric McIver, to join him at Sunday's event to make his support for the lesbian/gay/transsexual community known.

"Yesterday, I was having a conversation with some people from the Pride committee and they said that they haven't seen Ric McIver here in nine years. So, I called Mr. McIver and asked him if he'd attend here with me today," said Hehr, currently Liberal MLA for Calgary Buffalo.

"He said he had other plans. He wants to be mayor of this great city. He should be a mayor for all citizens."

McIver said a conflict in scheduling made it impossible for him to attend the parade.

Mayoral candidate Rik McIver said a previous engagement made it impossible for him to attend the Calgary Pride Parade. ((CBC))
"I'm grateful for the invitation, but as I explained to him [Hehr], I had a previous engagement at the Punjabi Cultural Festival," McIver said.

When asked whether he would attend next year, McIver said it's a possibility.

McIver wasn't the only one missing. Of the 17 mayoral candidates Hehr, Naheed Nenshi and Barb Higgins seemed to be the only ones who took part as costumed men and women paraded through downtown Calgary with coloured balloons and rainbow flags. Paul Hughes and Derek McKenzie subsequently confirmed their attendance at the event.

Attendees such as Cliff Erasmus say more politicians should take part in the event.

"I think it's really important that our politicians show support for the gay community because the gay community is part of Calgary," he said. "It's part of our world, and people have to learn to start to accept it and start to embrace it."