September 18th, 2019

Standing with the LGBTQ community

By Letter to the Editor on June 3, 2019.

The provincial election campaign was an inspiring and illuminating experience. I would like to share one experience in particular that reinforced my passion and responsibility to advocate and be a voice for vulnerable people in our community.

I attended the UCP rally in Medicine Hat on April 8 when leader Jason Kenney came to town. I went by myself and brought my Alberta Party campaign sign with me. I received a verbal dressing down from a gentleman who had attended the chamber forum who didn’t like the Alberta Party position on public health care. Another gentleman who I had chatted with at the chamber forum, a UCP supporter, greeted me warmly and brought me a bottle of water. Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News asked for a comment as to why I was at the rally. I responded “I am concerned that in 2019 this election is about protecting human rights.”

There were three protesters in attendance, two of whom I later recognized from Project Rainbow and one gentleman walking silently, carrying a large yellow sign with a very colourful suggestion as to what the UCP could do to themselves for their policy on GSAs and outing kids. I left before the rally ended.

That same evening, I received a message on my personal Facebook asking if I had been at the rally and if I was working co-operatively with the “edgy guy with the extremist sign” (attached was a picture of the man I mentioned above). “If so,” the post read, “you might want to distance yourself from that type of hate and bigotry.” The message ended with, “Optics Colette. Tis a fine balance advocating for rights and advocating for rights responsibly.” I didn’t engage further in this conversation at the time. However, now that the election is over, I have reviewed my correspondence and I really want to address this one.

I stand with the protester and all others who are speaking out for our LGBTQ community, especially our kids. When my rights, safety and well being are threatened, I’m not interested in responding politely or civilly, or being politically correct. I’m not interested in your definition of “advocating for rights responsibly.”

When it comes to protecting our children and vulnerable communities, I will not stand by quietly. I will call out your attempts to infringe upon and undermine our rights to protection, safety and the freedom to be who we are. I will vehemently oppose other threats to our rights, including the choice to access safe, legal health services, MAID, mental health and addictions support.

The Facebook poster’s backdoor attempt to intimidate or silence me is cowardly and futile. He or she out into the open to have this conversation, otherwise, stay the hell off my social media.

Colette Smithers

Medicine Hat

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