Northwestern Ontario Pride Organizations calling for urgent meeting with Kenora MP Eric Melillo
Tim Brody - Editor
Northwestern Ontario Pride organizations are calling for an urgent meeting with Kenora MP Eric Melillo and representatives of the Kenora, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, and Thunder Bay—Superior North federal Conservative riding associations over what they say is a “rise in transphobic rhetoric coming from certain political movements and the Conservative Party of Canada’s (CPC) response to them.”
“We are especially troubled by recent comments by Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre. His words appear to signal support for misinformed policies targeting 2SLGBTQIA+ people. These policies put trans, non-binary, two-spirit, and queer young people at risk of harm. We are equally troubled by the silence of members of the federal Conservative caucus who have previously spoken out against similar statements against our community. We have appreciated their support in the past but are concerned about their lack of response today, in our community’s time of need,” a joint statement from Queers in Sioux Lookout, Rainbow Alliance Dryden, Kenora Pride, Borderland Pride, Rainbow Collective of Thunder Bay and Thunder Pride, reads.
“Last week, the protests against the 2SLGBTQIA+ community that Mr. Poilievre was referring to included swastikas and far-right hate symbols, adults coaching children to destroy rainbow symbols, to say that 2SLGBTQIA+ people were “psychopaths” and “disgusting” and to get out of “their” country. These followed closely behind the recent Conservative convention, where a number of transphobic policy resolutions were adopted by the party.
“While Mr. Poilievre has stated that he is not bound to include those resolutions in any party platform, to-date he has not commented on them, nor has he repudiated them. For any federal party to clearly state that they are not bound to harmful views while refusing to distance themselves from those same views in clear terms is sending a mixed signal to the public. It puts those targeted at risk,” the joint statement reads.
CBC News had reported on Sept. 9 that, “Conservative delegates on Saturday voted in favour of some new social conservative policies, including banning medical or surgical intervention for children experiencing gender dysphoria. The controversial resolution passed with 69 per cent of the vote at the party’s convention.”
The Pride organizations are also referencing protests and counter protests which occurred on Sept. 20 across Canada on how schools address issues of gender identity as well as how teachers refer to transgender youth, as well as Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre’s reply on X (formerly Twitter) to a comment by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in relation to the protests and counter protests.
“In recent months, many of us have been threatened with violence and harassed here at home in Northwestern Ontario. We are also fearful for those who provide support for gender diverse young people who are at risk, such as education workers. We urge Mr. Poilievre and his caucus to consider these risks and impacts when they determine their public position on 2SLGBTQIA+ issues. As adult 2SLGBTQIA+ leaders we all take pride in calling Northwestern Ontario our home. It is because of the challenges we have faced in our own lives here that we believe it is our duty to protect today’s queer and trans young people. We want today’s youth to have a better future while feeling greater support and love in their hometowns. We hope that this aspiration is shared across the political spectrum. To that end, we have sent a letter to Kenora MP Eric Melillo asking that he stand with us,” area Pride organizations shared.
The Bulletin did not receive a response from MP Melillo’s office when asked to comment on the joint statement and the concerns brought forward in it.
“So far, we have received no reply, though we remain open to dialogue,” the Northwestern Ontario Pride organizations shared.
Reec Van Breda, Chair of QuISL commented, “QuISL (Queers in Sioux Lookout) have joined the call with the other 5 Pride Organizations around Northwestern Ontario calling for Eric Melillo to meet and discuss the rise of anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate coming from his party. This is not something Eric cannot sit on the sidelines about and wait for Pierre Poilievre to give him his speaking notes about - this shouldn’t be about playing politics - this is about human rights. This dog whistling anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate will inevitably lead to something worse for the Queer community. As our MP, he needs to step up.”