Monday, July 25, 2011

Pride and prejudice

Speaking on the steps of the Colonial Building

on Sunday (July 24) to kick off the annual St.

John's Pride Parade. Below is the text of my speech.

•••

Happy Pride!


When you run in an election campaign and speak with people on their doorsteps, you get to know what’s on their minds.


The diversity of opinions.


What they’re concerned about.


What they’re worried about.


What the issues are.


What the biases are.


And you get a handle on the kind of changes we need in society — the things we need to work on.


From pensions, and how — often — they’re not enough to live on.


To health care, and how — just as often — people have to make choices between prescription drugs and food, for example.


You name it, you’ll hear it on the doorsteps.


I’ll give you one example of a day on the campaign trail in late March while knocking on the doors of a street in the west end of St. John’s.


This is what I heard on the doorsteps of Canada Drive.


I heard people say they don’t like Stephen Harper — he couldn’t even sing a Beatles’ song properly.


One woman stepped out onto the snowy step in flip flops to say she was desperate for a job.


Desperate.


One man —carrying a small black dog came straight out and said he won’t be voting New Democrat because he doesn’t agree with, and I quote, “killing babies or gay marriage.”


He asked me where I stood.


I told him that I’m for a woman’s right to choose, and that people should be free to marry whomever they want.


Another elderly lady said she would be voting New Democrat — no question.


Those were the first words out of her mouth: “I will be voting New Democrat — no question.”


The woman’s daughter was gay and had to move home to Newfoundland from Alberta because she and her partner had been victimized.


The woman said her daughter’s car had been vandalized.


Which is no way to live — they felt threatened.


I asked the woman what she thought about it here in St. John’s, in terms of how her daughter and her partner are getting along.


“It’s good here,” she said of St. John’s.


That’s a taste of what I heard on the doorsteps of Canada Drive.


It’s good here — is it?


I would say from knocking on doors that there’s still work to be done, there are attitudes that need to be changed.


I attended the federal New Democrat convention in Vancouver a few weeks ago and a resolution was passed on the floor.


The resolution called on the Conservative government to revoke the charitable status of groups that support those seeking to overcome same-sex attraction.


The resolution passed unanimously.


As Pride celebrations take place across the country, I’m proud to stand with members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans-gendered and transsexual communities.


Along with fellow New Democrats, of course.


Let’s not forget that LGBT people around the world still suffer prejudice and discrimination — even to the point of violence and death.


As my leader Jack Layton said recently: “Our work is not done.”


It’s far from done.


New Democrats will continue pressing issues of concern to LGBT Canadians — LGBT Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.


Our work won’t be done until we have a world that includes members of the LGBT as equal, without a second thought.


Equal, without a second thought.


Thank you.

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