Alberta Premier Alison Redford took part in Edmonton’s annual Pride parade earlier this month, making her the province’s first premier to ever participate in a Pride event.
While this might seem awfully late compared to other provinces, it’s actually a pretty big deal for Alberta. When I left Alberta in the mid-2000s, premier Ralph Klein was still pushing for a national referendum on same-sex marriage after conceding that banning it was outside of provincial juridiction. Edmonton’s mayor, Bill Smith, flatly refused to recognize Pride week as a city event because… actually, I’m still not sure why. I was personally made to feel unwelcome in multiple facets of day-to-day life, helping spawn the site you’re reading now. So to see a premier march—and then speak to a crowd of thousands—in support of equal rights for the GLBT community is an important milestone.
Of course, there’s still some progress to be made. That same week, Alberta’s opposition leader Danielle Smith blasted the government’s plan to re-instate the small amount of health funding for sex reassignment surgery, calling it an elective cosmetic procedure. Members of Danielle’s party have been spouting some pretty bizarre anti-gay comments (prompting the production of a new T-Shirt), and a prominent plan in her party’s platform involved allowing regular citizens to legally refuse public services to gay customers.
Still, it’s clear where the overall trend is headed in Alberta. And that trend is toward the late 1990s. So, welcome! And congratulations.