Politics and Pride: PC and Wildrose leaders not attending this year's parade in Edmonton

Spokeswomen for both leaders say they have prior engagements on Saturday. Jean is attending a Wildrose fundraising golf tournament and banquet in Ponoka. Kenney will be at the Brooks Rodeo Parade.

Both Brian Jean and Jason Kenney have other engagements on Saturday, spokeswomen say

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has been a fixture at Pride parades in Edmonton and Calgary. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean will not attend this Saturday's Pride parade in Edmonton.

Spokeswomen for both leaders say they have prior engagements. Jean is attending a Wildrose fundraising golf tournament and banquet in Ponoka. Kenney's website said he would be attending the Brooks Rodeo Parade, but CBC was told on Thursday that he will instead attend a Vietnamese community event in Calgary hosted by Senator Thanh Hai Ngo. 

Both the Wildrose and PC parties say they missed the deadline to get into the parade so will send MLAs to interact with crowds on the sidelines and during post-parade festivities.

Lloydminister-Vermilion MLA Richard Starke will represent the PC caucus. Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Tany Yao will attend on behalf of Wildrose.

Wildrose spokeswoman Samantha Johnston said the party wanted to get into the parade but didn't get a letter from the Pride organizing committee until after the deadline had passed.

High demand 

Stephanie Dickie, communications director for Edmonton Pride, said applications for the parade open on Jan. 1 and close on March 30.  She said the letter from Pride organizers would have been an invitation to join in the celebrations on the festival grounds.

The only way for a company or organization to get into the parade is to fill out an application and answer a number of questions about human resource practices, outreach towards LGBTQ people, and reasons for wanting to participate.

The applications are then reviewed by a couple of board members and members of the LGBTQ community. Spots in the parade, which attracts 3,000 participants, are in high demand.

Asked if she was discouraged some parties didn't apply, Dickie said it was a difficult question to answer. She said she wished all political parties equally supported LGBTQ issues.

"Showing up for the parade is wonderful, and it's a wonderful way to show your support," she said. "But really, the behind-the-scenes stuff is where I really care that the politicians are doing the work."

Dickie declined to speculate on whether applications from the Wildrose or PCs would have been approved had they been submitted.

"We base our decisions on support for the LGBTQ community, and community involvement among other factors such as quality and depth of responses, and space available in the parade," she said in an email.

Premier, new Liberal leader attending 

Kenney is known for his socially conservative views.

He was against gay marriage while he was a MP but has said he has since dropped his opposition. Kenney has pledged that if he becomes premier he will not repeal Bill 10, the bill mandating gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools where students ask for them.

Kenney sparked controversy in late March after suggesting that parents should be notified when their child joins a GSA, unless the parent is known to be abusive.

Critics said that would potentially out children to their parents before they were prepared to discuss their sexual orientation.

Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark has attended Pride parades in past years but is unable to attend this year due to a provincial board meeting and talks taking place this weekend.

Clark's spokeswoman Natasha Soles said he's disappointed about missing this year's event but plans to be in the Calgary Pride parade on Sept. 3.

Newly elected Liberal Leader David Khan will be in the parade. So will Premier Rachel Notley and a contingent of NDP MLAs.

The parade is taking place in Notley's constituency of Edmonton-Strathcona.

In recent years, she has worn brightly striped tights and a rainbow-coloured feather boa as part of her parade get-up.