Canadian Conservative MPs Advised to Avoid LGBTQ2S+ School Protest Discussion

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Conservative party members of Parliament in Canada have been advised to abstain from engaging in online discussions or providing statements to the media regarding the recent protests on Parliament Hill centred on how LGBTQ2S+ matters should be managed in schools. The advisory was contained in a memo received by members of Pierre Poilievre’s caucus, hinting at appropriate points for them to discuss with their constituents, while cautioning against public commentary on the issue.

Such communique is not unprecedented, as the Opposition leader’s office often provides recommendations on key issues. Topics like bail reform and inflation, to name a few, often witnessed similar guidance to conservative MPs, preparing them for exchanges with reporters.

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In the case of the memo about protests, it was noted that the protesters had “legitimate points” about what was referred to as “parental rights”. The protests were observed in numerous cities across the country. Thousands convened to express their differing views on how gender identity and sexuality are instructed in schools and how educators should refer to transgender youth.

This public discourse has escalated in recent months due to novel education policies introduced in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. They dictate that a student under the age of 16 requires parental consent to be referred to by a new pronoun or name, a policy that has received legal opposition.

Scott Moe, the Premier of Saskatchewan, has stated his readiness to utilize the notwithstanding clause to uphold this policy against critics, advocates of LGBTQ2S+, and his province’s child advocate, who deem it a violation of the rights of transgender and non-binary students.

As for Poilievre, his commentary on the matter has been scant but consistent. He had previously stated in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticism of the New Brunswick policy, that the PM should not interfere in provincial matters, and that parents should be left to raise their children. The memo references this remark, as well as another statement from Poilievre about parental authority in children’s learning, as guidance for MPs in discussions with constituents.

The memo stressed that protestors were within their right to assemble and express their views and that MPs were tied up in party caucus meetings. It explicitly stated that MPs should not take to social media or engage the media on this issue.

In contrast, Prime Minister Trudeau tweeted his support for LGBTQ2S+ community, stating that “transphobia, homophobia and biphobia have no place in this country,” on the day of the protest. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was seen participating in a counter-protest in Ottawa.

Under Poilievre’s leadership, the Conservative party has concentrated on affordability and housing prices. The party’s lead over the reigning liberals in recent polls has boosted the morale of supporters, fueling their faith in Poilievre to return the conservatives to power.

However, party members at a recent policy convention demanded a balance between cultural and economic issues. They voted to include a provision in the policy handbook affirming women’s entitlement to “single-sex spaces” and proposing a ban on medical interventions for minors experiencing gender dysphobia. Poilievre has yet to comment on whether these non-binding policies will be implemented.