Invited to Calgary Pride after all by k.d. lang, Jason Kenney says he still won't go
'We are 100% committed to our UCP leadership campaign,’ spokesman says
Alberta crooner k.d. lang has invited Jason Kenney to Calgary's Pride festivities — but it appears he won't be attending.
The singer took to Twitter on Tuesday to offer Kenney — a leadership candidate for the province's new United Conservative Party — free tickets to a concert if he'd sit down and discuss LGBTQ rights with her.
I'll give <a href="https://twitter.com/jkenney">@jkenney</a> free tickets if he'll sit down and talk <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/lgbtqia?src=hash">#lgbtqia</a> rights with me!—@kdlang
Lang's offer followed a tweet from blogger Mike Morrison, who also invited Kenney on Twitter to attend Pride.
.<a href="https://twitter.com/jkenney">@jkenney</a>, says he doesn't attend Pride because no one invites him. <br>Using my gay membership, I officially invite him to the 10 day festival—@mikesbloggity
It all stemmed from a statement Kenney's spokeswoman, Annie Dormuth, issued Monday, saying he would skip the annual parade because he wasn't invited.
In an emailed statement to CBC News, Kenney spokesman Blaise Boehmer said the candidate always happily attends events when he is invited
"We have not received an invitation to this event. On Sept. 3, he is committed to attending and speaking at several large multicultural community events to which he has been invited," he said.
"With respect to k.d. lang's tweet, we are 100 per cent committed to our UCP Leadership campaign. We have numerous events scheduled with thousands of current and potential UCP members this week, and that's who we'll continue to focus on in the lead up to the vote on Oct. 28."
Calgary Pride begins Friday and ends Sept. 4. The marquee parade will be held on Sept 3.
Asked about the offer during an appearance in Edmonton, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said she thinks Kenney should take lang up on it.
"I think he should sit down with her, I'd be honoured to," she said. "I don't think he has anything to fear, I think she would probably be able to help him learn a few things."
While lang and Morrison urged Kenney to attend, parade organizers made it clear on the weekend that the United Conservative Party was not welcome because the party doesn't have a clear stance on sexual diversity issues.
Brian Jean might attend Calgary Pride
Leadership candidate Brian Jean said he hoped they would reconsider, noting he had asked to march in the parade and has always championed diversity and tolerance. Jean's campaign organizers said he might try to attend as a spectator.
Others affiliated with the party expect to attend as spectators, too, including interim leader Nathan Cooper, and leadership candidates Doug Schweitzer and Jeff Callaway.
The United Conservative Party was created last month after members of the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties voted overwhelmingly to join forces. A new leader is to be picked in October.
Both the PCs and Wildrose have had strained relationships with the LGBTQ community.
The Wildrose Party lost the 2012 general election in part due to its refusal to sanction a candidate who once warned gays to repent or face eternity in hell's "lake of fire."
The PCs faced a backlash in government over their handling of gay-straight alliances before passing legislation acceptable to all sides in early 2015.
Kenney has had an especially fractious relationship with the LGBTQ community, drawing criticism for urging that parents, in some circumstances, be told if their children attend a gay-straight alliance group.
Critics say that could out kids before they are ready and put them at risk of family estrangement or worse.
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With files from CBC News