Steinbach-area politicians will be no-shows at city's 1st Pride parade

Conservative MP Ted Falk said he will not attend Steinbach's first Pride Parade in July and is asking event organizers to respect his decision.

Conservative MP Ted Falk says he will not attend Steinbach's 1st Pride parade in July

Conservative MP Ted Falk will not be attending the Pride parade in Steinbach, Man. 'I've been clear on this issue many times, and have made my position public on my values of faith, family and community.' (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Conservative MP Ted Falk says he will not attend the first Pride Parade in Steinbach, Man., in July and is asking event organizers to respect his decision.

"I've been clear on this issue many times, and have made my position public on my values of faith, family and community," the member of Parliament for Provencher, a mainly rural riding in the southeast corner of Manitoba, said in an emailed statement Monday. 

"I will not be attending the Pride march taking place in Steinbach on July 9, nor do I intend to participate in any other events organized by this group.

"Just as I respect the right of people to participate in this event, I am hopeful the event organizers will be respectful of my choice, and the choice of many others, not to participate. Even without a scheduling conflict, my decision to not attend would be the same."

Human rights 'trump everything'

The statement did not elaborate on the reasons Falk is not attending the city's first Pride parade. Some media reports said the MP was planning to attend the annual Frog Follies Agricultural Fair in St.-Pierre-Joly instead. 
Maria-Christine Bruce is the president of the Frog Follies Agricultural festival in St. Pierre-Jolys. She is calling on politicians to skip the event on July 9 and attend the Steinbach Pride parade instead. (CBC)

But organizers of that event, held the same week as Steinbach's Pride parade, say politicians should skip it and go to the parade instead.

"The politician being talked about the most right now is Ted Falk because he is the one who is attending our festival and is using that as a reason not to go to the Steinbach Pride parade," said Marie-Christine Bruce, president of Frog Follies.

Bruce said she wants people to attend the Frog Follies, but added she also recognizes the importance of the Pride parade.

"It's a historic event, it's for human rights, and human rights will trump everything," Bruce said.

"This is the very first time that Steinbach is having this kind of event, and it was definitely an uphill battle for organizers to put this in place," Bruce said.

"In light of the recent tragic massacre in Orlando, we just can't ignore an important event like the very first Pride event in any municipality, any town, anywhere right now." Bruce said.

Pride organizers in Steinbach welcomed Bruce's stance.

"We greatly value the support from the Frog Follies, it's really a beautiful display of support," said Michelle McHale, Pride spokeswoman in Steinbach.

Mayor, MLA also not attending 

Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen and member of the legislature Kelvin Goertzen are not expected to attend the Pride event because of prior commitments.
Michelle McHale, spokesperson for Pride Steinbach speaks to reporters at the Manitoba Legislature after question period Monday afternoon. (CBC)

McHale said the mayor told her he would write a letter of support for his city's LGBT community, but as of this morning she had not received it.

"It will be interesting to see what it's going to be," McHale said.

A CBC News request to the mayor's office for comment has not yet been returned. 

Kelvin Goertzen, the Steinbach MLA and health minister, won't be at the Pride event.

"The minister is unable to attend due to a previous personal commitment," says an email from his office. A staff member in his office added the minister does not plan to attend the Frog Follies, either. 

NDP, Liberal MLAs will be there

Interim NDP Leader Flor Marcelino is planning to attend Steinbach's Pride event. Her office said she has registered as a guest. 

McHale attended question period at the Manitoba Legislature Monday afternoon, where Marcelino expressed her party's support for the LGBT community.

"Thank you Michelle McHale and everyone involved in organizing Steinbach's first Pride parade, we've come a long way, but there's still much work to be done." Marcelino said.

"We have registered for Pride and we'll see you in Steinbach on July 9," she said as she waved to McHale in the gallery.

After question period, McHale told reporters she is still disappointed by the statement made by Falk about how he won't attend any events organized by the LGBT community.

"First of all, I appreciate his honesty because that we can deal with, right? As long as we know, of course, it's disappointing," she said.

The Manitoba Liberals said their caucus will attend the event, which they call "a significant human rights milestone."

"The Liberal caucus along with [the] interim leader, party members and past candidates are looking forward to participating in celebration of this historical day," says a statement from the party.