Provincial Election 2014: Candidate Survey Results


provincialresultsGet Out and Vote!

On June 12, 2014, Ontarians are heading to the polls once again for the 41st provincial election. This is your chance to exercise your right to have a say in how our province is governed. You have the option to choose whichever candidate you think will best represent your interests, or to decline your ballot at the polls. Voting sends a powerful message to politicians about what’s important to us as Ontarians – and it’s so easy! To learn more about voting in Ontario, or the upcoming provincial election, visit Elections Ontario at www.elections.on.ca.

But which of the candidates in your riding are most informed about the Rainbow community? Or which are best prepared to take action on LGBTQ issues of concern? We found ourselves wondering the same things, so we went ahead and asked them.

 

Provincial Candidates and the LGBTQ Community

A small committee came up with 3 questions to get a broad understanding of what kind of involvement local MPP candidates have with the Rainbow community and how they might address specific LGBTQ issues. We emailed every candidate twice and gave them a 2 week timeframe to answer the questions. All candidates running in the Cambridge, Kitchener Centre, Kitchener-Conestoga, and Kitchener-Waterloo ridings were asked the same three questions:

  1. Do you have any experience or previous involvement with LGBTQ community, or any other community that has been marginalized?
  2. If elected, how might you promote inclusion and belonging for the LGBTQ community?
  3. If elected, how might you address issues of concern to the LGBTQ community, such as the following:
    • Hate crimes and bullying
    • LGBTQ youth homelessness
    • Workplace and employment barriers
    • Barriers to adoption and assisted reproduction
    • Access to long-term care and retirement housing
    • Access to healthcare and social services overall

We heard back from 3 candidates: Stacey Dankert (Green Party, Kitchener-Waterloo), Wayne Wright (Liberal Party, Kitchener-Conestoga), and Daiene Vernile (Liberal Party, Kitchener Centre). Their responses are here for you to read and consider when casting your vote.


Stacey Dankert | Green Party Candidate, Kitchener-Waterloo

1) Do you have any experience or previous involvement with LGBTQ community, or any other community that has been marginalized?

I do not have any personal experience in either the LGBTQ community, nor a marginalized community. While I do have friends in the LGBTQ community, I could never pretend to have a full understanding of the personal effects of being part of a marginalized community. I do love the positive effect that diversity brings to our communities and my family and I regularly attend the Tri-Pride event in town which we think is a fabulous event for the whole community

2) If elected, how might you promote inclusion and belonging for the LGBTQ community?

The Green Party has as one of its central tenants, the importance of treating people equally, and with dignity. As a member of the Green Party of Ontario, I support believe that transgender identity and gender expression are critical to a person’s health and well-being and that harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression constitutes a human rights violation. We support the specific inclusion of the terms, ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ in the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Green Party of Ontario will support smoother transition for transgendered persons at the beginning of their transition to change necessary official provincial identification documents that incorporate the designation of sex such as, but not limited to; driver’s licenses, health cards, etc.

3) If elected, how might you address issues of concern to the LGBTQ community?

First and foremost, we need to get inequality and discrimination out of our classrooms. Education is still the key to eliminating prejudice in any form, but particularly hate crimes and bullying. I think we have come a long way – I marvel at what 6 and 9 year olds know about human sexuality relative to my education thirty years ago – but there is still much to achieve. A first step towards that would be to merge the Catholic and Public School Boards to create a fair and safe school system for our children. In fact, it will also provide added savings ($1.6B annually) that can be used to improve the education children receive. The Catholic School Board has at times made some cosmetic steps towards inclusion but it is always on the backdrop of fundamental unacceptance of the LGBTQ community. To me this is unacceptable.

 

With respect to homelessness, the Green Party supports enhanced funding for temporary shelters and group homes, as well as including affordable housing as part of new developments.

 

I believe it is vital that we ensure Human Rights are upheld in hiring practices. By explicitly including the terms ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ in the Ontario Human Rights Code, we believe the Code will become a stronger representation of our community values that we can then turn to protect the basic rights of all Ontarians. This includes adoption and assisted reproduction in my view. My husband’s aunt and her partner in Australia have raised two beautiful daughters – their right to do so is the equal of any heterosexual couple.

 

We also support creating an assisted living and affordable housing strategy focused on seniors regardless of their gender identity or expression. The focus will be on giving seniors the support they require so they can live as well and as independently as possible, for as long as possible. We need enhanced focus on preventative health care that helps people stay healthy, with integrated health networks, which also includes mental health.


 

Wayne Wright | Liberal Party Candidate, Kitchener-Conestoga

1) Do you have any experience or previous involvement with LGBTQ community, or any other community that has been marginalized?

2) If elected, how might you promote inclusion and belonging for the LGBTQ community?

3) If elected, how might you address issues of concern to the LGBTQ community?

I had very little involvement in politics prior to this election.  I was inspired to become a Liberal candidate by Kathleen Wynne’s positive vision for Ontario. I am proud to stand with her. I will be prouder still when she becomes the first openly lesbian elected head of government in North America.

 

The Liberal Party, at both the federal and provincial level, is very proud of the contribution we’ve made over more than four decades in the struggle to end discrimination against the community and to promote inclusion and belonging:

  • 1969 Criminal Code of Canada amended to decriminalize private consensual adult same-sex sexual activity.
  • 1977 removal of discriminatory provisions in the Immigration Act
  • 1986 inclusion of sexual orientation in the Ontario Human Rights Code
  • 1996 inclusion of sexual orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act
  • 2000 BILL C-23 amended 68 federal statutes, including pension benefits, bankruptcy protection, income taxes, old age security and immigration, among others, to accord equal rights to same-sex common-law couples.
  • 2000 adding sexual orientation to the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code of Canada
  • 2005 the Civil Marriage Act made Canada the fourth country in the world to sanction same-sex marriage nationwide
  • 2012 introduction and passage of the Accepting Schools Act, Ontario’s anti-bullying legislation.

Locally, we participate annually at tri-Pride. My grandfather, who is now in his 90s, is a retired OPP officer.  His attitudes informed me during my childhood.  More than thirty years ago he taught me that sexual orientation was not a matter of preference.  Gay people, he would say, are born gay.  It was not a matter of choice.  He respected gay people. Christine and I are inculcating that same respectful attitude in our own children, leading them by word and example.

 

If elected, I will be open continuously to concerns expressed by the LGBTQ community and I will advocate on behalf of the community with respect to issues which may arise from time to time. As an MPP, I would be a community leader.  In speech and action I would try to provide leadership promoting inclusion and belonging for the LGBTQ community.

 

I support the efforts the Ontario Liberal Party has made to end bullying.  I will advocate with our police officers for enforcement of hate crime laws and with Crown Attorneys for prosecution.

 

I will advocate with the Ontario Human Rights Commission on behalf of those who face workplace and employment barriers.

 

My gay colleagues tell me that barriers to adoption have been significantly reduced over the past 20 years, but, to the extent that there may still be barriers to adoption and assisted reproduction, I will be supportive and advocate on behalf the equal rights of LGBTQ people to form and create family in the same ways that heterosexual people are able to do.

 

The issues of long-term care and retirement housing clearly need a good deal of work by both government and the community.  As the senior members of the community age, they should not have to feel that they must go back into the closet in order to survive socially in long-term care or retirement housing.  We’ll need to work together to find ways to care for and house older members of the community; ways that are satisfactory to those LGBTQ seniors.

As your MPP, I will always be available to deal with the community’s healthcare and social service access issues as they arise.

I will look to the community for guidance on all of these issues and work closely with the community.


 

Daiene Vernile | Liberal Party Candidate, Kitchener Centre

1) Do you have any experience or previous involvement with LGBTQ community, or any other community that has been marginalized?

2) If elected, how might you promote inclusion and belonging for the LGBTQ community?

3) If elected, how might you address issues of concern to the LGBTQ community?

Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak about the Liberal government’s commitment to continued support and engagement with the LGBTQ community in this region and across the province.

 

As a broadcast journalist, for the past 36 years, I have had the great privilege of meeting with and learning from individuals about important issues which affect us all.

I have met with a wide variety of persons, from elected officials to those affected by homelessness. Along with my children, we have volunteered for a decade at St. John’s Kitchen, preparing meals and connecting with people pushed to the margins of society.

 

Sharing this experience with my children was important to our family as I believe promoting inclusion and belonging in our communities is fundamental to fostering strong and healthy living spaces.

 

If elected, the Liberal government is committed to supporting our LGBTQ citizens to live in a community where they feel safe, supported, respected, and valued as fellow human beings. I am proud of the fact that our leader, Kathleen Wynne, identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, and is a strong role model for our young people. It is important that individuals who identify as LGBTQ see themselves reflected in their government leaders.

 

I am also proud of the legislative action taken by the Liberal government, specifically through the Accepting Schools Act, 2012, which requires all school boards to create policies to prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and discrimination, including students who are targeted based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

This legislation builds upon our Equity and Inclusive Education and Safe Schools Strategies which help Ontario schools be safe, inclusive, and accepting places where learning and growth can occur. This includes providing new mental health workers in schools, strengthening equity and inclusion in the Ontario curriculum, and raising awareness in our communities-at-large.

 

Ontario Liberals also understand that encouraging all members of the community to support sexual diversity cannot simply be legislated – it is a matter of changing attitudes and worldviews. This comes from opportunities to meet with and learn from others to work toward a shared understanding of the value of diversity.

The Ontario Liberal party, if given another mandate, will continue to stand with the LGBTQ community and engage in open and respectful dialogue toward achieving a more inclusive and accepting society, as well as providing the much needed supports to some of our most vulnerable citizens.

 

We understand that much work remains at the governmental level to support LGBTQ members in our community. If elected, I will be a supportive and receptive ally, willing to listen to the concerns and needs of everyone in our community, and I would be honoured to have the opportunity to represent your priorities at Queen’s Park.

 


UPDATE 2014/06/05: Received response from Catherine Fife’s office.

Catherine Fife | NDP Candidate, Kitchener-Waterloo

1) Do you have any experience or previous involvement with LGBTQ community, or any other community that has been marginalized?

The Ontario NDP has a record of standing up for the LGBTQ community. It was the NDP that pressured the government to allow gay-straight alliances in all Ontario schools. And it was the NDP’s “Toby’s Act” in 2012 that successfully amended the Human Rights Code to ensure equal treatment without discrimination and freedom from harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

2) If elected, how might you promote inclusion and belonging for the LGBTQ community?

I will be a close ally of the LGBTQ community. If I have the privilege of being elected to serve Kitchener-Centre on June 12th, I will work with the Waterloo Region Rainbow Coalition to continue to build inclusion here in Kitchener and Waterloo Region. I understand that we can best promote inclusion and belonging when we break down barriers and tackle discrimination. As MPP, I will meet with you soon after the election to discuss the specific initiatives we can pursue together. I look forward to working with you.

3) If elected, how might you address issues of concern to the LGBTQ community?

New Democrats know that the LGBTQ community continues to face discrimination, health inequities, and barriers to secure employment and housing. The Ontario NDP has a strong record of standing up for social justice and for the rights of all LGBTQ Ontarians. As MPP, I will work with you to address the specific issues facing members of the LGBTQ community in Kitchener and Waterloo Region.

 


 

 

Who We Are

The Waterloo Region Rainbow Coalition (WRRC) is a volunteer-based community association that acts as a central hub for the local Rainbow community. WRRC brings together various stakeholders from across the Region. Our emphasis is on building partnerships and working collaboratively to meet the needs of the Rainbow Community. One of WRRC’s focus areas for 2014 is increasing civic engagement on the part of the Rainbow community, so we are encouraging our community to get out and vote! WRRC does not endorse any particular candidate – we only offer this information to inform and engage our community in the electoral process.

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