Edmonton — Despite the low number of LGBTQ2S+ candidates winning Monday night’s election, advocates say it’s a positive development to see a more diverse and partisan mix of contenders in federal politics.
Five of the 41 candidates identified as LGBTQ2S+ running for Canada’s major political parties were elected on Monday. According to the election tracker of Granthshala.ca, there are two more leading in the election and the race is very close.
Curtis Atkins, deputy executive director of ProudPolitics, a non-partisan organization aimed at diversifying Canadian politics, told Granthshala.ca on Tuesday.
“Despite the small number of victories, it is a positive development to see that winning LGBTQ2S+ candidates are becoming more diverse, albeit slowly. The partisan mix of LGBTQ2S+ lawmakers outside Canada also continues to improve, as the more conservative queer politically comes out of the closet. “
Those elected included Blake DesGerlis, the NDP candidate in Edmonton-Grisbach, Alta. – A Metis two-spirit activist who campaigned to fight climate change and create jobs in a sustainable economy.
Desjarlais, 27, defeated Conservative Kerry Diotte to become Alberta’s only Indigenous lawmaker and Canada’s first two openly enthusiastic lawmakers.
Liberal incumbent Rob Oliphant, former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, won the Toronto-area Don Valley West Riding with Seamus O’Regan, who represents Newfoundland and Labrador’s St. John’s South-Mount Pearl Riding. O’Regan has been a cabinet minister since 2017, most recently as Minister of Natural Resources.
Two Conservative LGBTQ2S+ candidates took their ride, including Eric Duncan, who was reelected riding Stormont-Dundus-South Glengarry in southeastern Ontario and Melissa Lantsman in Thornhill, Ont.
“The victory of Metis activist and community organizer Blake DesJarlis was particularly worth celebrating,” Atkins said.
“But the queer party in the federal parliament is too male and too white to truly represent the diversity of our community.”
Overall, fewer openly LGBTQ2S+ candidates participated in this election than in 2019, yet the number of MPs outside has remained essentially flat, between about five and six candidates for the past several election cycles.
Helen Kennedy, executive director of Eagle Canada, the nation’s leading organization for 2SLGBTQI people and issues, says the lack of representation leads to a lack of accountability on issues affecting LGBTQ2S+ Canadians, such as conversion therapy or blood restrictions.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising to us, to see how many openly elected 2SLGBTQI candidates,” Kennedy told Granthshala.ca by email on Tuesday.
“When there is a lack of representation of our communities in government, it is sure to affect the progress we will see on key issues such as conversion therapy, blood restrictions, mental health, poverty, employment and health care access.”
Atkins says that even though all major federal political parties have increased the number of LGBTQ2S+ candidates, it is often the case that these candidates ride what their parties are not expected to win.
“Not enough attention is paid to developing LGBTQ2S+ political leadership that could translate into victory on Election Day,” Atkins explained.
“LGBTQ2S+ candidates face unique challenges that require unique strategies – re-appearing as a public figure, gay and transphobic whispering campaigns that use curtains to undermine support for queer candidates. Walk back, and more.”