Forget about David Cavey—it's Andrew Scheer's boycott of Pride events that warrants more public discussion

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      Many Vancouver residents had never heard of David Cavey before this week.

      The somewhat obscure TD Bank employee is the Conservative candidate in Vancouver Centre, where he's running against Liberal incumbent Hedy Fry.

      She's won eight straight elections, the last one by more than 20,000 votes.

      This makes Fry the longest-serving female MP in Canadian history.

      But Cavey suddenly found himself the talk of the town when he self-righteously declared that he was withdrawing from the Vancouver Pride parade.

      He justified this by expressing his disagreement with the Vancouver Pride Society prohibiting UBC and the Vancouver Public Library from participating. According to a Cavey news release, this was "shameful behaviour".

      Then the Conservative candidate highlighted how much federal funding the society receives.

      The leader of the Conservatives, Andrew Scheer, has already stated that he won't participate in any Pride events across Canada. And that's not shameful? That went unmentioned in the statement from Cavey.

      Keep in mind that Scheer took the trouble in April to fly all the way out to Vancouver to attend the Vancouver Vaisakhi parade.

      But the Conservative leader hasn't found it within his heart—or his schedule—to participate in a single Pride event in the entire country? Come on.

      I was left wondering what Cavey's employer thought about his position, given that TD is the lead sponsor of the Vancouver Pride parade.

      The bank also backs dozens of other Pride events in other cities.

      Yesterday, Cavey issued another statement in what he called an attempt to "correct" the record.

      He insisted that two critics of the trans community who spoke at events at the Vancouver Public Library and UBC did not violate Canada's hate-speech laws.

      Then he claimed that the VPL and UBC are "legally obligated to rent space to any speaker or group who speaks within the boundaries of the law".

      So "standing on principle", Cavey "made the difficult decision to withdraw his participation from the celebration". And he he had the gall to close his news release with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., even though his leader is boycotting Pride events from coast to coast to coast.

      Even if everything Cavey said is true in his statement, there is nothing outlawing the Vancouver Pride Society from kicking anyone out of its parade.

      The society is not a registered charity. Therefore, it can stand up for its community of supporters in any way it likes, including politically, as long as it's behaving legally.

      The Vancouver Pride Society has the right to invite or disinvite anyone from participating in its parade for conduct that it deems to be unacceptable. It can be as partisan as it likes because its donors do not receive tax credits.

      Let's not kid ourselves: trans people face unimaginable discrimination.

      It's why there's an annual Transgender Day of Remembrance to commemorate all the trans people who are murdered on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression.

      This year, the Vancouver Pride Society was merely reflecting the values of its founders by taking action against institutions that provided a platform for those who would disparage the trans community.

      The real issue, as I see it, is that Conservatives are trying to undermine the legitimacy of the Vancouver Pride parade.

      That, in turn, could help take a bit of the shine off the other federal leaders—Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh, and Elizabeth May—who will be walking in the parade on Sunday (August 4) and showing their support for the LGBT community.

      Andrew Scheer doesn't even attend Pride parades in Regina, which he represents in Parliament.

      Conservative party spinmeisters are trying to distract attention from no-show Scheer.

      This man who wants to be prime minister was gracious enough to come to Vancouver for Vaisakhi but was too churlish to be in Vancouver for Pride Week.

      Why? That's the question the media really should be asking.

      Is it because Scheer doesn't want to cede the anti-LGBT vote to Maxime Bernier's far-right People's Party of Canada?

      Does Scheer not want his photo at a Pride event being used by Bernier's supporters to smear him in the eyes of social conservatives?

      Is Scheer worried that supporters who helped him become Conservative leader will turn against him if he is seen anywhere near a rainbow flag this summer?

      It was only 23 years ago, in Hedy Fry's first term, that Reform MPs voted against including sexual orientation in the list of protected grounds under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

      The Reform party morphed into the Canadian Alliance, which swallowed up the smaller Progressive Conservative Party caucus.

      That's what led to the creation of the Conservative Party of Canada and the election of Stephen Harper as its leader.

      Under Harper, it was Conservative MPs who voted against extending human-rights protections to people on the basis of their gender expression and gender expression.

      Conservative MPs, including Scheer, voted against marriage equality for gays and lesbians.

      The Conservatives quite rightly have a credibility problem with many in the LGBT community, no matter how gay-friendly Cavey might be.

      One of its former MPs, Myron Thompson, once said: "I don't hate homosexuals, I hate homosexuality."

      In a similar vein, Scheer seems to be saying through his actions: "I don't hate queers. I just hate events that celebrate queer behaviour."

      It's conduct that's unbecoming of anyone who aspires to the highest political office in the land.

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