Pressure builds on Justin Trudeau and John Horgan to appoint ministers for LGBT issues

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      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. premier John Horgan have both presented themselves as friends of the LGBT community.

      Trudeau is a regular at Pride parades across the country and delivered an historic apology to the LGBT community in Parliament; Horgan wore rainbow-coloured sneakers when he attended the Vancouver event last year and has promised to restore the B.C. Human Rights Commission.

      But neither of them has appointed a cabinet minister for LGBT issues. And that has some suggesting this is the next step along the path to creating greater equality.

      At the end of January, Dalhousie University political scientist Lori Turnbull wrote a column in the Globe and Mail declaring that the time has come for Trudeau to appoint such a minister. 

      She pointed out that Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault is already the prime minister's point person on LGBT issues.

      "It is odd that he is not a minister already," she wrote. "After all, in a Westminster system such as ours, a minister is, by definition, an MP who is a 'special adviser' to the prime minister on some area of policy and governance."

      If Boissonnault was promoted to cabinet, he would receive a hefty pay increase.

      MPs collect $172,700 annually but this rises to $255,300 if they become a minister or minister of state.

      Justin Trudeau has attended Vancouver Pride parades before and after he became prime minister.
      Charlie Smith

      Less than a week after the article appeared in the Globe and Mail, an online petition was launched to ask the minority NDP government in B.C. to appoint a minister on LGBT issues.

      "As many as 1 in 5 British Columbians identify as LGBTQ+ which includes gay, bisexual, polyamory, pansexuals, gender variant people, and many others," the group said in a news release.

      The petition is being led by Veronica Greer, one of four transgender candidates who ran in the 2017 B.C. election.

      She represented the B.C. Greens in Surrey-Panorama.

      “Transgender people face the most barriers to unemployment out of the LGBTQ+ population,” Greer said, “because who we are is not able to be hidden, unlike someone’s sexuality.”

      Greer's group is planning to hold a petition-signing event and a rally at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Thursday (February 15).

      The event will coincide with the legislature being in session.

      One of B.C. champions for LGBT equality, Spencer Chandra Herbert, joined Premier John Horgan at the 2017 Vancouver Pride parade.
      Spencer Chandra Herbert

      There are at least three openly gay or lesbian NDP MLAs who are not currently in cabinet: Spencer Chandra Herbert (Vancouver–West End), Mable Elmore (Vancouver-Kensington), and Nicholas Simons (Powell River–Sunshine Coast).

      They are among a relatively small number of NDP MLAs who were not appointed as ministers and who've been in the legislature since 2009.

      In fact, Chandra Herbert was first elected in 2008 and Simons first was elected in 2005.

      B.C. MLAs are paid a $105,881,83 base salary. They receive an additional $52,940.92 if they join the cabinet as a full minister and $37,058.65 if they become a minister of state.