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Manitoba PCs remain mum on Pride parade pledge

Pride month has officially begun and, throughout the month, Pride parades will be held across the province, starting first in Winnipeg on Sunday.

Partaking in parades and Pride festivities, however, has become a political sticking point between Manitoba's official opposition and the provincial government: While the Manitoba NDP is committing every member to walk in one of Manitoba's pride parades during June, the governing Progressive Conservatives are unwilling to make a similar pledge.

The debate started on Wednesday, during Question Period in the Manitoba Legislature, when NDP MLA Lisa Naylor, the party's spokesperson for 2sLGBTQ+ issues, asked Premier Heather Stefanson whether or not she will ask party members to partake in Pride festivities this June.

"Will the Premier commit that she and every member of her caucus will walk in a Manitoba Pride parade this year?" said Naylor on Wednesday.

Premier Stefanson did not respond. Instead, the minister responsible for gender equity, Rochelle Squires, replied, saying that members of the Progressive Conservative caucus will indeed be participating in Winnipeg's Pride events on Sunday.

The rhetoric escalated when lawmakers exited the legislative chambers.

"If there was another group under threat, is there was a cultural group in this province seeing their human rights seriously threatened in this country, and on this continent, then yeah, I would expect MLAs to show up," said Naylor on Wednesday, alluding to recent and ongoing efforts in the United States and Canada to censor 2SLGBTQ+ content.

Again, Minister Squires responded on behalf of the governing Conservatives, saying a "mandate" to attend Pride isn't the best way to promote participation in the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

"I don't think that's a way to go about things, to force people to March," said Squires, "I think it's always been a choice that people have made and I believe that is the respectful approach to take."

The NDP reiterated their call to action again on Thursday, with Naylor saying elected leaders shouldn't need to be forced to show their support for the queer community but offer that willingly.

"Every MLA who represents LGBTQ+ folks across this province, as we all do, should want to and should be standing up for and representing those people in their community," said Naylor, again calling on the Premier to ask PC MLAs to engage with local Pride organizations.

Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen fielded questions on Thursday and addressed the NDP's call to action.

"When it comes to events that we and all are invited to, hundreds of events every year, and we are encouraged to attend and be in the community doing things to support people in the community," said Goertzen, who added he will not be attending Winnipeg's Pride parade.

Premier Heather Stefanson has not yet directly responded on whether or not she will encourage party members to participate in Pride events and did not respond to comment when asked by CTV News.

Premier Stefanson will be marching in the Winnipeg Pride parade on Sunday, along with other cabinet ministers and MLAs.

Political participating in Pride parades isn't as common in the Pembina Valley Pride parade.

President Peter Wohlgemut says, when the parade was held in Altona and members of the local government marched alongside organizers, it showcased a commitment to the queer community.

But, Wohlgemut adds, politicians marching in a Pride parade should come from a real desire to support the community.

"Politicians are definitely welcome," they said. "Come to the Pride event but be there for the right reasons and walk the talk, don't just do it during June." Top Stories

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