Am I a shit disturber? Â That’s the question I asked myself a lot last week. In cause you don’t follow me on Twitter (AND WHY AREN’T YOU?!) You may have noticed last week, I was very upset that Calgary-area MLA Ric McIver walked in a parade called March For Jesus.
â€” Mike Morrison (@mikesbloggity) June 16, 2014
The issue, of course is not that McIver was walking in a parade that celebrated his faith, it was that that particularly parade was organized by a man with extremely hateful views about the LGTBQ community, including blaming Calgary’s Pride Parade celebrations for last year’s flood and consequently, the death of five people. Â I, along with a lot of people wereÂ frustratedÂ and sad that in this day in age, we had toÂ explain to an MLA how hurtful his actions were. Â The days after the parade weren’t exactly the stuff that political strategists would call a success story. Â McIver posted a message on his Facebook page about celebrating diversity, then three days later he finally issued a mea culpa. Â But a lot of people weren’t satisfied. A lot of people had a lot of questions, including myself. I wrote about those questions in last week’s Metro column. Still not satisfied with how the issue has been unfolding, yesterday, I got the opportunity to talk to McIver and ask the questions that I think people should have been demanding the answers to. This, is that interview. I’m not sure if I’m a shit disturber. I mean, I don’t think I am. I think, I like to ask questions, especially when I think politicians aren’t answering them. Â The trick is, of course, politicians are professionals at not really answering questions. Â I’m glad I got this opportunity to talk to the man, who is also in the running to be the leader of the Alberta PCs and subsequently, our next Premier. Â I’m not sure if he answered the questions to the point where I was completely satisfied, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Mike: I have to admit, your actions last week caught me off guard. Why is the LGTBQ issue is still an issue in Alberta politics?
Ric: It shouldnâ€™t be. I didnâ€™t intend for it be one. In my mind, it isnâ€™t an issue. But I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person. I drew attention to a very ugly and harmful website.Â You know what? Iâ€™m taking my public beating for it, but it doesnâ€™t reflect my personal views in anyway.
Had Artur Pawlowski expressed to you his thoughts on homosexuality?
Ric: They have some strongly held views, but I hadnâ€™t heard anything thatâ€™s even in the neighbourhood of whatâ€™s on that website.
Given your long and documented history with him, do you understand why people are skeptical?
Ric: What I didnâ€™t apologize for and what I won’t apologize for now is my feelings towards gay and lesbian people. I donâ€™t have any negative thoughts. Thatâ€™s why I havenâ€™t apologized for it, because I have no negative words or thoughts on that.Â But what I will apologize for is allowing a website that ugly to get that much attention. Youâ€™re right, I thought people had the right to ask about the history and I tried to explain that. Thatâ€™s why I did the press conference in front of City Hall. The guy I became friends with was feeding the poor on the street. I felt frankly that bylaw officers were picking on him and I used to take time to say hello to the people he was feeding. Then he invited me to March for Jesus and I thought, â€œWell, Iâ€™m a Christian, what can be wrong with that?â€ My Christian faith is â€œLove thy neighbor and love yourself.â€ Whatâ€™s on that website is the exact opposite, which is wrong and I donâ€™t agree with it.
Mike: The timeline of last week is a bit confusing. You walked in the parade on Sunday, by Sunday night people were very upset, but then on Monday you said that youâ€™d continue to attend events that celebrate diversity. But it wasnâ€™t until Thursday that you said that one was the wrong one to attend.
Ric: That event should have been about diversity, but as it turns out, based on the website, itâ€™s not. Thatâ€™s my fault for not seeing it.
Mike:Â On Sunday night, you knew what the website said, but the next day you made the comment about celebrating diversity. Thatâ€™s where the issue comes from.
Ric:Â Honestly, Mike. The most important thing to me on Monday was to say that I donâ€™t agree with the views on that website.Â Because they donâ€™t in any way reflect who I am, what I think and feel. And frankly, that was the most important point and I wanted to make that quite deftly.Â People were asking questions, â€œHow could you be there, Ric?â€, I knew I owed people a further explanation and thatâ€™s what I tried to do on Thursday.Â Â Even if you look at the video that I did, it was all about the guyâ€™s work with feeding people on the street. In no way did it support negative views or the hurtful website issues.
Mike: On the note of you attending events that celebrate diversity, what LGTBQ events have you attended in the past?
Ric: I donâ€™t know if I have attended any.
Mike: Why do you think that is?
Ric: No explanation. Iâ€™ve certainly gone to lots of events in the community, but not sure if any LGTBQ events. The only one Iâ€™m really aware of that happens on a regular basis is the Pride parade. I know thereâ€™s other events, believe me.
Mike: Do you think itâ€™s important that you go to this yearâ€™s parade?
Ric: Quite frankly, Iâ€™m not sure what Iâ€™m going to get to this yearâ€™s. I know Iâ€™m going to the Gay Rodeo this weekend and Iâ€™ll look for more opportunities to meet with more of my bosses. I guess my whole campaign is based on that all Albertans are my boss, and by all, I mean all. Gay, straight, lesbian. Thatâ€™s how I think.Â I think itâ€™s important that I try to go. I think itâ€™s important to get to know people and acknowledge that people can live the way that they are born and live the way that they are.Â Thatâ€™s what I mean when I go to events based on diversity, its celebrating peopleâ€™s freedom to be who they are.
Mike: When will you decide if youâ€™re going to the Pride Parade or not?
Ric: I donâ€™t know the answer to that. Thatâ€™s a good question. One of the humiliations that you go through when you run for leadership is that you give lifeâ€™s control to somebody else and thatâ€™s where I am.
Mike: If you do go this weekendâ€™s gay rodeo and hypothetically the Pride Parade, do you think youâ€™ll hear from people who are upset that you attended?
Ric: Iâ€™m not sure. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised.Â Â I say this all the time: Iâ€™m happy to hear whatever people have to say. Iâ€™m happy if people say, â€œRic, youâ€™re so wrong, itâ€™s unbelievable. Iâ€™m happy if people say, â€œRic, youâ€™re so right itâ€™s unbelievable.â€ Obviously I want them to say the second one.Â But Iâ€™m happy to hear both. When people say nasty things just to be mean, I donâ€™t have a lot patience for that. When people say nasty things, because they genuinely believe it to be true, My initial reaction to ask them why they feel that way.
Mike: Does the gay community have a friend in you as Premier?
Ric: Yes. As do all Albertans.
Mike: Have the actions of last week hurt your campaign?
Ric: Iâ€™ll give you a definitely maybe. Iâ€™m not sure. Straight up. I donâ€™t know. Thereâ€™s no doubt. Iâ€™ve won and lost a few elections, you never really know what people are thinking until election day.
Mike: Is there any reason the LGTBQ community should be worried about your involvement in the Alberta government?
Ric: Only if they think I spend too much money on things that arenâ€™t important to them. They have nothing to worry about. Â If they donâ€™t like the policies I put forward, they should worry about that. But no, they shouldnâ€™t feel any personal way troubled at all.