Farewell to Rona Ambrose, and thanks
Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) Interim Leader Rona Ambrose announced today that she intends to resign her seat in the House of Commons in June and leave federal politics. We at LGBTory Canada are sad to see her go. She is a true friend of the LGBT community in Canada and was instrumental in implementing changes to the CPC Policy Declaration in 2016 that, in a long overdue move, removed language excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage. Her contributions to making the CPC more tolerant and inclusive will not soon be forgotten.
In late 2015 LGBTory joined with like-minded allies across the country to push the CPC to change its marriage policy. We were part of a team that navigated the long and complicated path to introducing a resolution to amend this policy at the CPC Policy Convention in Vancouver in May 2016. One of our first steps was to send a letter to Ms Ambrose in January 2016 advising her of our plans and asking for her support (you can read that letter here). We knew it was a big step for the leader of a party that had historically opposed same-sex marriage, and we hoped for the best.
Ms Ambrose responded in February (you can read her full letter here). We were delighted with her answer:
I have been unequivocal that the Conservative Party welcomes all conservatives regardless of sexual orientation. If you believe in smaller government, lower taxes, balanced budgets and individual freedom, there is a home for you in our party.
Recently, the Alberta Conservative policy congress adopted a resolution calling for the language dealing with same-sex marriage to be deleted from our party’s social policy. The resolution was supported with large numbers.
If the resolution makes it to our National Policy Convention floor this May, I will be happy to support it. As always, I place my trust in our party’s members to ultimately make the decision on policy resolutions.
When we published her letter on our website it touched off a frenzy of media coverage of this historic shift coming from a Conservative party leader. The publicity drew a lot of attention to the resolution and helped give our team the momentum to steer the resolution to the convention floor. Ultimately the delegates did support it, voting to remove the marriage policy by a vote of 70% to 30%. Ms Ambrose’s support was crucial to this outcome.
In June of that same year, Ms Ambrose demonstrated once again that LGBT people are welcome in the CPC. She flew to Toronto from her home riding in Alberta specifically to march, alongside Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown and a number of other federal and Ontario Conservative politicians, in Toronto’s Pride Parade. She was the first leader of a federal Conservative party to do so, and her presence sent a powerful message to the LGBT community that left-wing parties do not have a monopoly on LGBT interests.
We are sad to see her leave federal politics; her leadership has gone a long way to promoting tolerance and diversity in the CPC. We consider her a strong ally of the LGBT community, and appreciate her help in our outreach to LGBT conservatives. Thank you, Rona, and good luck.
Hastings County, Ontario