05/03/2018 20:29 EDT | Updated 05/03/2018 20:31 EDT

United Conservative Party Doesn't Make The Cut For Edmonton Pride Parade

The festival society said the party's application didn't meet expectations.

Jason Franson/Canadian Press
United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney speaks in Edmonton on Jan. 29, 2018.

Edmonton's Pride festival has rejected an application by Alberta's Opposition United Conservative Party to participate in its parade.

The Edmonton Pride Festival Society says the party did not meet criteria that include connecting with the community, having policies and values that include the community and being sincere in an application.

"When the committee reviewed the application of the United Conservative Party, they found it did not meet expectations," the society said in a release Thursday.

It said the party didn't include any actions it would take to support the LGBTQ community.

"Compared to other applications, the content was sparse," the society said. "It did not include any details as to how they would be supportive of the community, only that they say they will."

In its application, which the party posted on Twitter, the United Conservatives said they believe in equality for all.

"It is important that Albertans understand that the United Conservative Party, as the official Opposition, is an inclusive and welcoming organization," said the application. "Beyond that, it is important to us to be a part of this vibrant and joyful celebration of Edmonton's LGBTQ2S+ community and to clearly demonstrate our support."

Party leader Jason Kenney and his caucus declined to comment on the Pride decision. They called it a party matter and referred questions to the party.

The United Conservative Party's executive director Janice Harrington said the application speaks for itself.

Participating 'is a privilege not a right': expert

Kris Wells, assistant professor in the education faculty at the University of Alberta, said he's not surprised that the application was rejected.

"Being in a Pride parade is a privilege not a right," he said. "It's something that needs to be earned through more than just words, but actions."

Wells, who is also faculty director of the university's Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, said the party hasn't shown it values the community.

"It's very concerning that the UCP would even apply to march in a Pride parade given the comments from Jason Kenney about gay-straight alliances, outing LGBT youth in schools without their consent and even, most recently, the policy resolutions that have been presented for this weekend's inaugural policy convention, many of which are extremely homophobic and transphobic."

Barred from Calgary Pride last year

The United Conservatives were also denied permission to march in the Calgary Pride parade last year but some legislature members attended as spectators.

Kenney, a UCP leadership hopeful at the time, initially said he could not attend the parade because he had not been invited. A spokesperson later said Kenney's day was booked with several multicultural events.

Alberta Party house leader Greg Clark said his party will be at the parade. He said he understands why the United Conservative application was rejected.

"They're not supportive of that community," said Clark. "If you are not supportive of that community, Pride is well within their right to choose who marches in their parade."

NDP cabinet minister Ricardo Miranda, who is gay, said the NDP will march in the parade because "we've been very solid on this particular issue." He said he and fellow members, Estefania Cortes-Vargas and Michael Connolly, have "put forward policies and government directions that have supported the community."

With files from Dean Bennett at the Alberta legislature