As a Tory I believe in equality under the law: MacLeod

"I'm an old school, small government, keep your nose outta my life and hands outta my pocket conservative" read the post on social media this week.
Revellers take part in the Ottawa Pride Parade on Bank Street, August, 24, 2014. Over 75,000 people were said to take part in the days festivities. (Chris Roussakis/Ottawa Sun)

Revellers take part in the Ottawa Pride Parade on Bank Street, August, 24, 2014. Over 75,000 people were said to take part in the days festivities. (Chris Roussakis/Ottawa Sun)

It sounded like my type of Tory.

As a Progressive Conservative I was brought up to believe that government needs to live within its means, you help those who cannot help themselves, government cannot and should not be all things to all people, private property should be respected and in society the rule of law should prevail.

It should come as no surprise that any conservative prepared to stand up for the rule of law should also support the equality of all under it.

This of course, was disputed by a radio host on the day I joined PC Leader Patrick Brown, federal cabinet minister Kellie Leitch and local MPP Jack MacLaren at Toronto's Pride Parade.

CFRA's Nick Vandergrat suggested Jack and I should be "tossed out of the building" for marching in support of equality.

Perhaps he was unaware on that day four men were murdered by ISIS in Syria by being "tossed out of the building" for reportedly being gay. (Spoiler alert, Tories are anti ISIS).

It should also not come as a surprise to anyone that equal rights, indeed human rights, have been the cornerstone, a tradition, of Canadian conservativism over the years.

Suffrage was supported as early as confederation by Sir John A Macdonald.

Women were granted the right to vote by Sir Robert Borden, John Diefenbaker brought in Canada's first Bill of Rights, Joe Clark and Flora MacDonald opened Canada's doors to Vietnamese boat people (Flora fought and won for gender equality inclusion in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), Brian Mulroney is largely credited with leading the opposition to apartheid in South Africa and my predecessor John Baird aggressively opposed Vladimir Putin's anti-gay laws in Russia while serving as Foreign Affairs Minister.

That said every major political party has had its moments in choosing the wrong side of history, too.

But time marches on, and so I chose to march in Toronto Pride this year.

And I was surprised that it received attention by a luminary such as Vandergrat.

That's because there is no contradiction in being conservative and supporting equal rights, regardless of what type of conservative you identify with.

As a right of centre conservative, I advocate for family-friendly policies, fiscal conservatism, the rule of law and government accountability.

And it's been my experience in representing one of Ontario's fastest growing constituencies, with a large urban and vast rural population, that fairness is paramount -- whether that's a level playing field for small and medium sized business, or lower taxes for middle class families, or for the basic equality of all citizens under the law.

But I'll be the first to acknowledge that some in society are having difficulty with this, which is why it is important for me to march today in Ottawa's Capital Pride parade.

Someone needs to give a voice to the majority of conservatives who believe in equal rights and who would rather spend their time talking about fixing things like the economy, health care and education as opposed to rolling back a marriage law passed a decade ago.

More than anything, it is important to the young conservatives who may be questioning their own sexuality and their place in our party that I march.

After Toronto Pride, I received a note that said, "As a LGBTQ Tory I thank you for marching in the parade. If I was out I would've been there marching with you all."

So, I will march today as "an old school, small government, keep your nose outta my life" Tory in that spirit.

In the meantime, I have to ask, how can you demand government get off your land and get out of your life if you're going to pass judgment on others' lives and expect government to as well?

-- Lisa MacLeod is the MPP for West Nepean-Carleton.

http://www.ottawasun.com/2015/08/22/as-a-tory-i-believe-in-equality-under-the-law-macleod