Calgary Pride's decision to bar political parties from parade sets 'high standard'

In a blind-jury point system, Calgary Pride says only one party would have made the grade: the NDP.

Provincial parties are surprised, disappointed with decision

The NDP in the 2015 Calgary Pride parade. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

In a blind-jury point system, Calgary Pride says only one party would have made the grade: the NDP. So, the board decided to bar all parties from this year's parade.

In a release sent Wednesday the organization wrote only allowing one political party could label others as "against LGBTQ2S+ rights" and could also make those who don't vote for the NDP in the LGBTQ community feel less than.

Calgary Pride stands behind their decision.

Ban makes sense, says political scientist

Political scientist and Mount Royal University professor Lori Williams says the board's reasoning makes sense.

"They've gotten the message out that the policies of only one party met their criteria, setting a fairly high standard in the process," Williams said. "While at the same time, not too closely aligning themselves with one party and appearing to be actually partisan."

Williams said this move may encourage other parties to do better with LGBTQ policy.

But online, the decision has ruffled some feathers

A hashtag #RachelMustMarch has been circulating on Twitter. In a statement to CBC News, the NDP said lumping their party in with others negates the work done by the party when in power.

NDP's record recognized 

In its statement, Pride did acknowledge the party's record.

"Calgary Pride also recognizes the countless hours of LGBTQ2S+ advocacy done by our political allies," read the statement.

"Further, the record-breaking 46 hours of filibustering by the NDP, acting as Alberta's Official Opposition to the UCP, in which they battled through sleepless nights to protect the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ2S+ youth must be acknowledged and celebrated."

Kristopher Wells is an associate professor at MacEwan University and the Canada Research Chair of Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth.

He says there will be varying opinions on this decision because of how diverse the LGBTQ community and its allies are. But at the end of the day Wells thinks these types of discussions aren't new.

"It's part of a trend we're seeing across Canada with Pride festivals," he said.

"Fifty years after the Stonewall riots, many festivals are revisiting the question as to what are their purposes? What values do they believe in and who should be included or excluded from their Pride celebrations?"

Pride only happens for a week, but allies need to show their support all year round​​​​- Kristopher Wells


And, he said, while political parties may be upset or disappointed they can't be in the parade as a party — they can participate in Pride as individuals and find ways throughout the year to be allies to the community.

"Pride only happens for a week, but allies need to show their support all year round," Wells said.

"It's not just showing up in a Pride parade and saying 'We're inclusive' but actually living it out throughout the year."


Helen Pike


Helen Pike lead CBC Calgary's mountain bureau in Canmore. She joined CBC Calgary as a multimedia reporter in 2018 after spending four years working as a print journalist with a focus on municipal issues and wildlife. You can find her on Twitter @helenipike.


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