Its rare that openly queer elected officials have the power that George Smitherman and Katherine Wynne have enjoyed over the last seven years. They have been in the in Premier McGuinty's inner circle. They have enjoyed power never realised in the history of Canada. Yet here we are after seven years waiting for significant changes well within the means of these two people to help us.
In Toronto Center we elected in a by-election a good man in Glen Murray. I like Glen. I have no doubt that Mr. Murray supports GSAs, sex education changes that reflect reality, ie that LGBT youth exist and personally supports decriminalisation of HIV. Despite my observations, Mr. Murray as our MPP has failed to advocate on our behalf, becoming another cog in the machinery of McGuinty's government.
Here are some of the issues that Murray, Smitherman and Wynne have failed the LGBT community on, Gay Straight Alliances in our schools, sex education and criminalisation of HIV. Wynne was Minister of Education and made some good changes. They included the responsibility of schools supporting and assisting the creation of GSAs. While in the non-catholic school system this has proceeded well, the publicly funded Catholic system refuses to accept this government direction and has banned GSAs and the use of the word gay. The McGuinty Liberal Government refuses to enforse their own rules on the Catholic schools.
What makes the lack of support and use of political capital to enforce the rules, the news of another teen committing suicide in near by Buffalo New York amplifies the wrong committed by our three friends failure to act. Will it take a young persons suicide in Toronto or North Bay or Sudbury for the McGuinty Liberal Government to take notice? Will one suicide do it or will it take two or three young people?
On sex education, the government came forward with a very progressive new program this year, only to throw it in the garbage after a few hundred religious fanatics started banging their drums. The changes would have taught kids that homosexuality and Trans people are part of the population and deserve respect and have rights to be who they are. It would have benefited LGBT youth in knowing that they are okay as they are. They do not need to feel they are perverts or alone. Not a word to defend these changes to the education system came from Smitherman, Wynne or Murray.
Finally there is the criminalisation of HIV. The McGuinty government promised more consultation with our community. So we learn now that the Attorney General has made application to the courts to further entrench the criminalisation of HIV. Not a hint was given to the community. No phone calls to say we've thought about this and decided to go back on our word.
We won't even come close to electing a Hudak conservative in Toronto Center. We have two choices, Cathy Crowe and Glen Murray. Both are personally progressive. Who will it be. Tonight there is a debate at the 519 Center. Demand the candidates support and vow to publicly and privately advocate for our issues. Demand accountability.
Info on debate at the 519 Located at 519 Church Street Toronto, Ontario
Thursday, September 22, 7 - 9pm
The 519 and Xtra! are proud to host an All Candidates Debate for the upcoming provincial election in Toronto Centre.
The All Candidates Meeting is your opportunity to:
• find out more about provincial issues that affect you, your friends and your neighbours• meet the candidates• learn more about where candidates and their parties stand on your issues• get the information you need to make an informed choice on voting day
Canadian Writer, Broadcaster and Community Organizer Jane Farrow has kindly agreed to moderate this debate. Jane has moderated several debates at The 519 over the past few years and the nature of debate and discussion has been vibrant and dynamic.
Cathy Crowe (NDP), Glen Murray (Liberal) and Mark Daye (Green) have confirmed their attendance.