06/06/2012 04:13 EDT | Updated 08/06/2012 05:12 EDT

Alison Redford At Gay Pride Will Be A First For Alberta


CALGARY - Alison Redford says she is looking forward to being the first Alberta premier to attend the Gay Pride festival in Edmonton.

She doesn't know why it has taken so long for a premier to participate.

"I can only speak to who I am and what I think and what I believe," she said Wednesday.

"I've been, of course, a supporter of diversity and equal rights for the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered) community and every other Albertan."

"I'm very happy as premier to participate."

She said she believes Albertans feel the same way and want to live in a community that is respectful, tolerant and inclusive.

Redford is to offer greetings in downtown Edmonton after the Pride parade on Saturday.

Wildrose Opposition Leader Danielle Smith is also to make an appearance at the week-long festival, which runs Friday through June 17.

Smith's party struggled with accusations of homophobia in the recent provincial election campaign, when an online video surfaced of a candidate saying homosexuals would burn in a lake of fire.

While Smith herself said she was pro-gay marriage, she defended Hunsperger's right to his religious beliefs.

Redford attacked Smith for her position, stating at the time that if Hunsperger was a Progressive Conservative, she would have removed him from her team.

Smith cited the incident as one of several missteps in the dying days of the campaign that led to the Tories being re-elected.

A university group is planning to sell T-shirts at the festival that mock Hunsperger's comments. The shirts read "I stayed at the Lake of Fire and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

The Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta says proceeds from the shirts will go to a camp for gay youth.