February 21st, 2020

Medicine Hat bakery uses doughnuts to send pro-LGBTQ message to MLA Drew Barnes

By Collin Gallant on May 9, 2018.

Two dozen doughnuts glazed with the message "It's OK to be Gay" are creating a stir on social media after a local baker sent them to the office of Cypress-Medicine Hat United Conservative Party MLA Drew Barnes.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com @CollinGallant

A box of doughnuts proclaiming “It’s OK to be Gay” sent to a local MLA’s office is creating a social media frenzy across the province.

The bakery’s owners, however, say the message is clear and comes after the United Conservative Party voted at last weekend’s policy convention to reverse current rules about informing parents when students join school clubs, including gay-straight alliances.

“I was just really disappointed,” said Brendan Hillson, who co-owns and operates McBride’s Bakery on Dunmore Road with his wife, Carole. “With so many things a government should be dealing with — health, education, pipelines, economic diversity — there’s a lot to talk about at a policy convention.

“Regulating someone’s gayness shouldn’t be one of them.”

Last weekend in Red Deer, 57 per cent of delegates at the party’s policy convention supported motion.

Advocates say such gay-straight groups offer support to adolescence and informing parents without the teen’s consent harms trust and can put some children in danger.

UCP Leader Jason Kenney said the motion is poorly worded and he wouldn’t campaign on it, but critics of the party say it reveals extreme position on social issues and the lack of clarity is concerning.

Carole Hillson became a UCP member of the party to vote in its leadership contest, but says she hasn’t been active at the policy or constituency level.

She hopes “individual members will stand up and show some leadership” and make the party’s position clear.

“I hope as it gets closer to the election, individual members will come together and walk the talk about being a big tent party. If they don’t, that will also inform voter’s decision-making process.”

The doughnuts, two dozen glazed rings with rainbow sprinkles and the statement, were delivered on Tuesday morning to the office of the Trans-Canada Way constituency office of Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes, the UCP’s finance critic.

He joined McBride’s social media message about the delivery, thanking them.

“The Alberta UCP is a diverse broad tent coalition with a variety of beliefs,” reads a message. “All are welcome regardless of who they love or how they worship. We will continue to represent all Albertans when we form government in 2019.”

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, the MLA for Lethbridge-West, suggested Barnes’ statement was disingenuous.

“Your party was hijacked by extremists on the weekend, due to the fact your leader encouraged them,” she wrote. “Now you’re offside (with) the majority of Albertans and your empty statements below don’t reflect to reality.”

On Wednesday, Carole Hillson fielded calls from the Alberta bureau of the Toronto Star and CBC Radio.

Brendan Hillson said that reaction directly on the bakery’s social media platforms has been very positive, but she has seen other discussions where reaction has been at times harsh.

“There are a lot of angry people out there,” said Carole Hillson. “It’s not such a big, controversial statement ‘it’s OK to be gay,’ eh?”

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