TORONTO — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says that when people say "all lives matter" in response to Black Lives Matter, it reminds her of people saying, "Why don't straight people have a parade?"
Wynne, who is openly gay, responded to questions Thursday about a member of The Tenors changing the national anthem's lyrics at the Major League Baseball all-star game to the controversial phrase.
"I think what is heard by people who heard him sing that is that, 'You don't understand what we're saying. What we're saying is that there's a particular issue,'" she said.
"It's like when people have said to me in the past, 'Well, straight people don't have a parade. Why don't straight people have a parade? Everybody should be proud of who they are.' Well, yeah, that's true, but straight people experience life differently than gay, lesbian, bi, transgender (and) two-spirited people. So I think that there's a lot of misunderstanding that happens when we get into the use of language in this way."
Singer Remigio Pereira inserted "all lives matter" into O Canada while singing a solo verse of the anthem on Tuesday night and held up a sign bearing the message.
He has since said that his motivation was to "bring us all together" and that he meant no disrespect to Black Lives Matter because "they most definitely do."
Wynne said it looks like he "made a big, big mistake in terms of his career."
Ahead of attending a public meeting Thursday night of Ontario's newly established anti-racism directorate, Wynne said Pride Toronto and Black Lives Matter Toronto will have to discuss their issues separately from her input.
Black Lives Matter temporarily halted the Pride parade to issue a series of demands that included more funding and better representation for racialized communities during Pride events. It also called for a ban on police floats in future parades.
Wynne said people can discuss specific tactics, but the group is raising issues of systemic racism "that have to be taken seriously."
"People have a right to peaceful protest and we as a government have a responsibility, and I would suggest we as a society have a responsibility, to tackle the challenges of systemic discrimination as we see them."
Wynne stepped outside the Ontario legislature in April to speak to a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters and told them she was willing to set up a formal meeting. That has not yet happened, but Wynne said Thursday that it would take place "later in the fall, perhaps."