St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud did the right thing to call out the UCP government's actions and to criticize Bill 8 at the recent St. Albert Pride flag-raising ceremony. It is disturbing that the conversation has shifted from the destructive realities of Bill 8 to decorum at public events, the non-partisan nature of municipal politics and the comfort level of those attending the flag-raising event.
The impact of Bill 8 on the lives of LGBTQ2+ people is real. Bill 8 rolls back much needed protection for LGBTQ2S+ students, staff and GSAs, and marks a regressive step in the protection of these Albertans.
Gay pride events were and still are a way to protest marginalization and highlight unjust policies affecting LBGTQ2S+ people. Raising a pride flag on city property is itself a political act – symbolic of taking a stand on the side of LBGTQ2S+ people – not a happy photo op to help us feel good about ourselves!
It was fully in keeping with the spirit of Pride for MLA Renaud to point out the effects of Bill 8 on people who live in St. Albert at the event. Instead of advocating for her LBGTQ2S+ residents, Mayor Cathy Heron chose instead to highlight the "non-partisan" nature of municipal politics. She criticized MLA Renaud's choice of setting to speak frankly about an unjust policy that directly affects people in our city whom the Pride flag stands for. Mayor Heron said some in attendance were “uncomfortable” with the MLA’s remarks.
The UCP government must be held accountable for their harmful policies! The UCP government has slashed local school and provincial post-secondary funding, driven physicians out of the province, alienated nurses and teachers, caused school therapists and EAs to be laid off, cut funding to AISH and other disability services, and cut local and provincial grants supporting the arts and non-profits; not to mention closing and privatizing parks, selling protected land and passing horrific changes to environmental regulations. It is not partisan to question provincial or federal governmental actions and priorities that negatively affect our city and the people who live here. These realities should be voiced.
Thank you, MLA Renaud, for doing your job as our elected representative. Shame on you, Morinville-St. Albert MLA Dale Nally, for deflecting from the damaging policies of your government. Mayor Heron, if our city’s pride ceremony and words spoken there in support of LGBTQ2S+ make you or others uncomfortable, it means we haven't gotten it right yet. Our discomfort should be toward harmful policies, not with those who point out the truth.
Carol J. VoglerSt. Albert