United Conservative leader won’t attend Edmonton Pride, holding separate event

EDMONTON — Alberta Opposition Leader Jason Kenney says he will not attend this year’s Edmonton Pride parade, but he will be nearby.

Kenney says he will attend a United Conservative Party Pride pancake breakfast near the parade route on Saturday.

Kenney says he and other legislature members from his party will be there to support the Pride community while respecting the wishes of parade organizers not to participate.

Last month, organizers rejected the party’s application to march in the parade, saying Kenney’s United Conservatives did not meet criteria that include connecting with the Pride community and sharing its policies and values.

Organizers stressed that United Conservative members would still be able to watch and celebrate the event along with other festival-goers.

Kenney says it’s a matter of good manners to respect the wishes of the host.

“It’s been clear our application to participate has been rejected and we’re going to respect that,” Kenney said Monday. “My mom told me not to show up at a party I’ve not been invited to.”

The United Conservatives were also denied permission to march in the Calgary Pride parade last year, but some legislature members attended as spectators.

Kenney, who was running for the party’s leadership at the time, initially said he could not attend the parade because he had not been invited. A spokesperson later said Kenney’s day was booked with several multicultural events.

Kenney and the United Conservatives have had a difficult relationship with the gay community, particularly as it relates to gay-straight alliances in schools. The alliances are social clubs to help gay students feel welcome and avoid bullying.

He has said parents should be told if their child joins a gay-straight alliance unless doing so could put a child at risk.

Advocates say even the possibility of parents being told would stop students from joining the clubs and suggest Kenney is trying to surreptitiously kill gay-straight alliances while professing to support them.

The issue has also brought Kenney into conflict with members of his own party.

Party members voted at the founding convention a month ago to have parents automatically told when their children join clubs such as gay-straight alliances.

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