Update: For the Vancouver Pride Society's response to David Cavey's withdrawal, see this article.
The federal Conservative candidate for Vancouver Centre has decided he won’t march in the city’s 2019 Pride parade, which is happening this Sunday (August 4).
“Today [July 29] our Candidate David Cavey made a principled decision to stand with UBC and the Vancouver Public Library [VPL] and withdraw our participation in the 2019 Vancouver Pride Parade,” reads a campaign media release.
It goes on to criticize the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) for declining to allow UBC and VPL employees and representatives to walk in the parade under official banners of their respective organizations.
“The Vancouver Pride Society's website says, ‘We strive for inclusiveness in all that we do’,” it reads. “But this behaviour suggests otherwise. It’s shameful behaviour for an organization that receives $1 million in federal taxpayer money. They should not be playing politics with the taxpayers money.”
On July 8, the VPS said that it had rejected UBC’s application to participate in Vancouver’s 2019 Pride parade because last June the university allowed on campus an event featuring the controversial anti–SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) speaker Jenn Smith.
Then, on July 23, the VPS announced it had similarly informed the VPL that its application to participate in the parade was rejected and that VPL employees could instead march with the City of Vancouver or with their union, CUPE 391. That decision was in response to the VPL allowing an event at its Central Branch featuring Meghan Murphy, the founder of Feminist Current who critics accuse of advocating views that are “transphobic”.
Cavey’s release notes that he has marched in previous Pride parades in Vancouver but won’t do so this year in a show of support for UBC, the VPL, and free speech.
“As publicly funded institutions, both are obligated to ‘host’ whomever wishes to rent their property - within the limits of the law,” it reads. “They don't necessarily agree with the speakers. But to punish them for following their obligation to respect free speech, the exchange of ideas and intellectual freedom, is plainly wrong.”
Before making his decision, Cavey contacted the VPS but received no response, according to the release.
“We encourage other political leaders and campaigns to join us in taking a principled stand on behalf of UBC and the VPL on inclusiveness, free speech, intellectual freedom, and diversity of opinion and refuse to march in the parade unless its organizers reinstate these respected local institutions,” the release concludes.
Last month, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Andrew Scheer, announced he would not march in Toronto’s 2019 Pride parade, nor in Regina’s (where Scheer is an MP), or any other city’s.
“While Mr. Scheer does not plan to march in the Toronto Pride Parade, he will continue to stand up against hatred and discrimination in all its forms,” a spokesperson for Scheer told the National Post.