A spokesman for Pierre Poilievre said Mondaythe federal Conservative leader does not agree with the message of “straight pride,” after he was photographed with a man wearing a T-shirt bearing those words.
Sebastian Skamski said Poilievre had been posing with “hundreds of people” at the Calgary Stampede on Saturday when he was photographed with an individual “without reading what was written on his shirt.”
The bright green T-shirt featured the symbols for men and women that are often posted to the doors of public restrooms.
It said, “Thank a straight person today for your existence,” in black capital letters, with “straight pride” written at the bottom.
Skamski said that “Poilievre does not agree with the message displayed on the T-shirt,” adding that Conservatives are working to build a country where everyone is free to be themselves, “regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Poilievre said in June that he saw Pride Month as celebrating “freedom from bigotry” and the right to be viewed as an individual instead of being lumped together in a group identity.
Poilievre and other political leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, kept up the tradition of joining pancake breakfasts and other public events at Stampede over the weekend.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith did, too, and her office provided a similar response when a photo of the premier with the same individual began circulating online.
Sam Blackett, a press secretary for Smith, said in a statement that the premier also did not read the person’s shirt, “and obviously doesn’t agree with its message.”
Blackett added Smith has “always been clear” that she supports those in the LGBTQ community.
Lizette Tejada, the Alberta NDP’s critic for LGBTQ issues, said in a statement that the premier has a history of “amplifying messages of hate and intolerance” and accused her of refusing to take responsibility for her past “tacit approval” of such messages.
“It’s impossible to believe that neither she nor anyone in her staff read the T-shirt worn by her supporter. Danielle Smith clearly had no problem with the hateful message she posed with,” Tejada’s statement said.
Even before becoming federal Conservative leader last fall, Poilievre began appearing before crowds of hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Conservative faithful and supporters of his leadership bid.
After such appearances, he frequently takes time to pose for photos with those in attendance.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2023.
Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press