Save the date: Steinbach Pride posts invite for 2017 parade, reminder for local politicians

Steinbach, Man. politicians have received a very early reminder for the community’s second Pride parade.

Thousands went to inaugural Pride parade but mayor, MLA, MP notably absent, organizer says

Thousands of people attended the first Pride parade in Steinbach, Man., in 2016, but an organizer says some notable faces were missing. (Amber Hildebrandt/CBC)

Steinbach, Man. politicians have received a very early reminder about the community's second Pride parade.

The organizers of Steinbach Pride's Second March for Equality have already posted online a "save the date" notice for the July 15 event in the city, approximately 50 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg.

Thousands of people took to the streets in the city's inaugural Pride parade last July. Police estimated between 2,500 and 5,000 people came to the community of about 13,500 for the event.

But there were some notable faces missing, Pride organizer Michelle McHale said. Conservative MP Ted Falk, Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen and Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen did not attend.

"When you are an elected official you have a responsibility to represent all people that are in your area or in your constituency. So there was a lack of that last year," McHale said on CBC's Radio Noon on Tuesday.

Not only did the politicians not make an appearance, McHale said at least one took a vocal stance against the parade celebrating the LGBT community.

"Ted Falk made some comments saying that he had made his position clear on his values on faith, family and community," she said.

"[He's] implying that somebody who is LGBTTQ is not part of a family, can't have faith, or either doesn't belong in community or isn't part of the community that he envisions. It's just not appropriate for an elected official to be saying that."

Police estimated between 2,500 and 5,000 people came to the parade in 2016. (CBC)

Prior to last year's march, the member of Parliament for Provencher, a mainly rural riding in the southeast corner of the province, said he hoped organizers would respect his decision not to go.

McHale said she respects that people will have different beliefs, but as an elected official Falk's comments could be construed as discriminatory.

Mayor Chris Goertzen and MLA Kelvin Goertzen cited prior commitments as their reasons for not attending.

McHale said that's why organizers decided to announce the date well in advance, giving people an opportunity to clear their calendars.

"I am looking forward to this year. It will be interesting to see what this year looks like. We have no idea, but the committee is hard at work," she said.

While the date has been chosen, McHale said they will send out official invitations to all local politicians when a location is picked.