Liberal and Conservatives have answered how they would address LGBTQ+ issues put forward by the York community.
Both the Liberal and Conservative campaigns responded to a PFlag York Region questionnaire, which the organization released Sept. 7. The parties fielded questions on conversion therapy and blood donation restrictions, as well as Indigenous issues.
Pflag York president Tristan Coolman complimented responses from both parties.
“I was surprised at first by just how specific and direct some of the answers were,” Coolman said.
Pflag also reached out to the NDP and Green parties, but they did not respond before Pflag's deadline. However, Coolman said the Liberals and the Conservatives have bigger teams, and they have more at stake in the election.
“I understand the election campaign is a very busy time,” Coolman said, noting the riding is traditionally a battleground between Liberals and Conservatives. “I don’t think it’s really a knock on the other parties.”
Both the Liberal and Conservative parties have committed to re-introducing a bill that would have banned conversion therapy for people under the age of 18, which was being reviewed by the Senate but died with the election call. The Conservative campaign said it would clarify the ban would not apply to non-coercive conversations, while the Liberals said the bill would be introduced within the first 100 days of office and extend the ban to cover people over 18.
Either way, Coolman said he has confidence the bill will go ahead in some form if one of the two parties forms government. But he added there could be changes from the version that almost passed.
“There’s a lot of room to make sure the bill is as effective as possible,” Coolman said.
Both parties indicated a willingness to continue on the progress made with LGBTQ+ health via standing committees.
Pflag also specifically asked the Liberals about removing the time limit before men who have sex with men can donate blood, which the government reduced but did not eliminate in the term. The Liberals responded the party is committed to removing the discriminatory policy.
“Liberal governments have been at the forefront of advancing LGBTQ2 rights and will continue to be in the future,” the party said. “We are the only party that has made substantive changes to advance and protect the rights of LGBTQ2 communities in 60 years.”
“A Conservative would be proud to partner with LGBTQ2IA community members and organizations across the country to share data, research and to hear the lived experience of LGBTQ2IA Canadians,” the Conservative Party said. “This type of collaboration and consultation will certainly lead to better policy outcomes not just for the LGBTQ2IA community, but for all Canadians.”
Pflag also asked an intersectional question about Indigenous access to clean drinking water and reconciliation, which both parties said they are committed to addressing.
Coolman said Indigenous issues have also not received enough discussion during the overall campaign, which surprised him given the national outrage over recent discoveries of unmarked graves for Indigenous children in the residential school system.
“I’m very disappointed in that as an individual voter. I expected it to be an issue, and it wasn’t."
He said Conservatives striving to be more LGBTQ+ friendly is a positive development across the political spectrum.
“The Conservatives are trying to appear more socially progressive than they have in the past, which I think is a good thing for Canada,” Coolman said. “Then the parties on the left are pushed a little more to explore these issues a bit deeper.”
The complete questionnaire responses are available on the Pflag website.