Alberta NDP to march in this year's Calgary Pride parade, UCP 'excluded,' caucus says

The Alberta NDP in the 2015 Calgary Pride parade. (Rachel Maclean/CBC - image credit)
The Alberta NDP in the 2015 Calgary Pride parade. (Rachel Maclean/CBC - image credit)

The Alberta NDP and the Libertal Party of Canada will be marching in this year's Calgary Pride parade on Sept. 4 — the first to be held since 2019 — but the caucus of the governing UCP say they've been excluded from this year's event.

Political parties were banned from participating in the parade in 2019 after a blind jury found only the Alberta NDP would pass their requirements to take part.

Rather than just allow the one party to join, the organization issued a blanket ban.

"The organization underwent some pretty extensive community engagement both with community stakeholders and with representatives of political parties," said Calgary Pride manager of communications Brit Nickerson in an interview on the Calgary Eyeopener.

"Their recommendations were that political parties should be allowed to participate but go through a slightly more rigorous process."

This year, the organization is requiring anyone who wishes to participate in the parade to submit an application, Nickerson said, as they don't have enough room to allow everyone to take part.

"They're asked … to state their party's formal and public position on the 2SLGBTQ community, to describe any initiatives for the gender and sexually diverse community, any initiatives for other marginalized folks," Nickerson said.

"And we've asked them to outline any actionable steps towards reconciliation with Indigenous communities."

The identity of the each respondent was redacted before their answers were handed to an 11 member jury, representing different intersections of the community, for approval.

Kate Adach/CBC
Kate Adach/CBC

In a statement, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said their application was approved, adding the party is proud to be considered an ally.

"The fight for human rights is never truly over and with new threats emerging south of the border it is even more important that we take a stand and show our pride," she said.

"At the end of the day, love wins."

Tyler Gilbert, field manager for Prairies and North with the Liberal Party of Canada, said they filled out the form and were approved by Calgary Pride as well, adding they believe the process was "fair and transparent."

UCP caucus 'excluded'

In the case of the UCP caucus, the application did not get approved, according to director of communications for the United Conservative Caucus of Alberta, Tim Gerwing.

"We're disappointed that Calgary Pride organizers have chosen to exclude Alberta's largest political party, and the countless Albertans who identify as members and supporters of it, from an event that highlights representation, inclusion and diversity," he said.

"As disappointing as it is to see so many Albertans excluded from this event for political reasons, Alberta's United Conservative Caucus will continue to ensure that Alberta is the best place in the world to live, work and start a family, regardless of who a person loves or how they express their gender identity."

This isn't the first time the UCP's application has been rejected. In 2017, Calgary Pride asked the organization to take a workshop before being allowed to participate.

Nickerson emphasized the organization's jury is blind and members did not know which party's application they were assessing. Each submission requires a 50 per cent vote to move forward — the UCP application did not meet that criteria.

Rachel Maclean/CBC
Rachel Maclean/CBC

Each applicant has 48 hours to appeal the decision, but Nickerson said the UCP caucus did not contest it. The organization has also tried to reach out to the party to provide feedback on their submission, which Nickerson said they won't discuss publicly at this time.

When asked whether the organization's application process might be exclusionary, Nickerson said they don't want anyone to feel left out.

"This process was put together after a lot of public stakeholder and community engagement, and the roundtable actually included quite a few active politicians," Nickerson said.

"We do have limited space … folks who are maybe not permitted to march in the parade are absolutely welcome in Pride in other ways. They're welcome to attend the parade and the festival. They're more than welcome to volunteer."

Calgary Pride received four applications from political parties but would not say more on which ones applied or received approval.