STATEMENT: Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan on Anti-2SLGBTQIA+ events

EDMONTON – Today’s anti-2SLGBTQIA+ events are a political tactic.

The shadowy, far-right operatives who are behind these events want free publicity for their toxic and hateful fringe ideas – ideas which would otherwise be confined to the darkest corners of the internet.

Even more importantly, they want to stir up progressive Canadians in order to leave the impression that all we think and care about are 2SLGBTQIA+ issues.

They want this because polls show that a large number of Canadians, while being supportive of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and especially 2SLGBTQIA+ kids, also think that our left and centre-left parties spend too much time on these issues – at the expense of other issues like the economy and the cost of living.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Progressives can champion both human rights and a strong, fair economy at the same time.
But that’s what the organizers of these horrible events are going for. That’s what this is really about.

It’s a cynical effort to gain a political advantage for conservative parties. And they would happily unleash hatred against some of our most vulnerable citizens to get it.

To say this is morally reprehensible is an understatement.

But, we see what’s going on. We also see the people pulling the strings.

And where is the UCP on this issue? In their leadership race, Danielle Smith played footsy with the same people organizing and participating in these anti-2SLGBTQIA+ events. Danielle Smith mandated her Minister of Arts, Culture, and Status of Women to “continuing to support and engage with members of Alberta’s Francophone and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.” But, there’s been nothing but silence from the UCP. In this case, silence can be seen as support.

So, today, I’m going to join the counter protests. Many of us from the Alberta labour movement will proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Canadians from coast to coast to coast to send the message that our schools should be safe places for all kids, regardless of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.

I’m also going to support CUPE Alberta’s “Purple Shirt Day” demanding raises for educational assistants who currently make less than people working at McDonald’s. They need a raise so we can attract and retain the staff we need to help our kids thrive.

And, I’m also going to jump on Zoom and make a presentation to a parliamentary committee examining the issue of the unfolding global energy transition. I’m going to tell our Members of Parliament that if we don’t prepare for the future, we’ll get left behind. And I’m going to tell them that denial is not a plan.

The extreme right is playing dangerous political games with the safety of our kids.

Let’s shut them down by showing our fellow Canadians — every day and in everything we do — that the progressive high road is always better than the regressive low road on every issue – from human rights to public services to the economy and to the environment.

We will never let hate win. Solidarity.

You can read Gil McGowan’s column on the protest at the Tyee here.


John Ashton
Director of Communications, AFL