Manitoba premier banned from future Pride events after absence from parade

·3 min read
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson speaks at the rally before the Winnipeg Pride march on Sunday. She didn't march in the parade after. (Walther Bernal/CBC - image credit)
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson speaks at the rally before the Winnipeg Pride march on Sunday. She didn't march in the parade after. (Walther Bernal/CBC - image credit)

Premier Heather Stefanson will not be invited to participate in future Winnipeg Pride events after she didn't walk in the parade Sunday, which the organizer's president says insulted an entire community.

After former Manitoba premier Brian Pallister spoke at a Pride rally without participating in the parade 2019, Pride organizers implemented a policy that any leaders invited to speak must also walk in the parade.

After multiple meetings with her staff, it was determined that the new premier could speak before the parade, which she did.

Organizers say they were told she would walk at least two-thirds of the route after her speech, but she did not.

Pride president Barry Karlenzig says he feels like they were lied to for a photo opportunity.

"Why is that team telling me one thing, and then the premier has the audacity to pull exactly what the previous premier did?" Karlenzig said.

"Even after multiple meetings with that office saying this cannot happen or they will not be allowed to walk. So now they've done what we told them not to do. She's not invited next year. Period."

Premier apologizes

In a statement, Stefanson said she was unable to join the parade due to scheduling conflicts, and there was a miscommunication between her staff and the organizers.

"I want to sincerely apologize to Pride Winnipeg and the 2SLGBTQ+ community for not being able to join in the march portion of Sunday's events," she said.

"I hope this mistake is an opportunity to forge a new path forward based on respect and shared goals to build a more inclusive and prosperous Manitoba."

Pressed about her lack of participation after a news conference Thursday, Stefanson said she was never told that walking in the parade was a requirement of speaking at the rally.

"I was not aware of that. Had I been, I would have been there," she said.

Stefanson said she had three events planned for the day of the parade, and was double-booked.

She said following the Pride rally, she attended a community event at Maples Community Centre with members of the Sikh community. She couldn't recall what time it started, but said she didn't want to leave the parade halfway through and be disrespectful.

The premier said she looks forward to meeting with the Pride Winnipeg executive and hopes they can repair the relationship.

Karlenzig said he spoke Wednesday evening to a senior staff member who said the oversight was his fault, but the Pride president said he holds the premier responsible.

A spokesperson for the premier clarified that it was a senior strategic adviser that Karlenzig spoke with, not Stefanson's chief of staff, as Karlenzig originally said.

Other politicians did walk in the parade, including Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew, along with members of the NDP caucus, as well as members of the Manitoba Liberal Party.

Walther Bernal/CBC
Walther Bernal/CBC

Manitoba Liberal Party Leader Dougald Lamont was not able to attend as he was recovering from COVID-19.

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