Strong Tory Showing at Toronto’s Pride Parade Exemplifies Changing Face of Canadian Conservatism

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TORONTO, - JUNE 28, 2015 - Ontario PC Leader Patrick Brown (2nd from right) marches in the parade. Toronto Pride 2015 took over the downtown core as the annual Pride Parade wound itself through the downtown. Photographed on JUNE 28, 2015. Rick Madonik/Toronto Star

It seemed quintessentially Canadian: Conservative party members from provincial and federal levels of government walking through Toronto during the annual Pride parade.

No longer a rite of passage for just the Liberals and New Democrats, the Conservative contingent at North America’s largest LGBTQ parade was plentiful.

Lisa MacLeod (MPP, Nepean-Carleton), Patrick Brown (Leader, Ontario PC & MPP, Simcoe-North), Rona Ambrose (Interim Conservative Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition), Maxime Bernier (MP, Beauce), Lorne Coe (MPP, Whitby-Oshawa), Michael Chong (MP, Wellington-Halton Hills), Kellie Leitch (MP, Simcoe-Grey), Gila Martow (MPP, Thornhill), Peter Kent (MP, Thornhill), and Lisa Raitt MP (Milton).

All 9 politicians were wearing smiles, taking pictures and carrying signs with the newly popular Conservative meme “Because it’s the current year.” A statement that cheekily mocks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s infamous “Because it’s 2016” response when asked why he chose to have equal number of men and women on his 2015 cabinet.

Yes, this show of support should put to rest any doubt critics had about whether or not conservative politicians in Canada overwhelmingly support LGBTQ rights.

“Join me for pride parade today in Toronto!” Tweeted Maxime Bernier with a picture of a rainbow-coloured “Don’t tread on me” Gadsden flag. A flag that has become synonymous with individual freedom across the United States.

The parade itself was well documented by @LGBTory, a rising force in the online sphere of gay Tories. And, judging by a steady stream of conservative Tweets coming from the event, the festivities went on without much negativity, save for one man carrying a Toronto District School Board flag who voiced some foul-mouthed insults at the parading conservatives and the obvious petulance of the misguided Toronto chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM).

Call me crazy, but those minor inconveniences, particularly the latter, are perfectly fine in my books. BLM found a way to actually galvanise conservatives and liberals on a single cause: Hijacking a parade – especially one that is supposed to galvanise historically marginalised communities – is flat out wrong.

“My priority yesterday was to make the parade move. We had a million people waiting…so the parade had to go on,” said Pride’s Mathieu Chantelois on why he signed off on BLM’s demands after a 25-minute delay in the parade.

Chantelois continued, “…Black Likes Matter is not going to tell us that there is no more (police) floats anymore in the parade. I will not tell you there are no more floats in the parade because Pride is bigger than Black Lives Matter.”

In any regard, let us pay no more attention to the glaring negatives of the BLM’s actions, let’s continue on with the positives, like the rise of cultural libertarianism within the conservative party.

This is a particularly important talking point because the Conservative Party Leadership Election is in May of 2017, and I expect to see cultural libertarianism play a massive role in who becomes the next leader of the federal Tories in our 2019 election.

Just look at the three candidates who have entered the race already: Maxime Bernier (arguably Canada’s most libertarian conservative), Michael Chong, and Kellie Leitch. All of whom participated in Sunday’s Pride parade.

Let’s face it, the old guard’s time is dwindling. As conservative millennials become a larger percentage of the voting population, the demand for government to let Canadians live and let live is only going to increase.

From LGBTQ rights to the war on drugs, there is a tsunami of ethical differences between old and new conservatives and these differences are about to hit the mainstream debate. As a conservative millennial myself, I am elated.

But for now, conservatives of old and new are almost exclusively hand-in-hand for the same cause. We’re unabashed in showing that Love is Love and, unlike the vast majority of countries around the world, even out right wing party is on board with those ideals.

Andrew Donovan

London, Ontario

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