The pride of Ottawa

The pride of Ottawa

Pride 2022 was the first one I’d ever attended in Ottawa. I took my kids to experience it and there we were, being loud and proud with an impressive collection of stickers on our faces and much joy in our hearts.

The first candidate to appear on my street corner was Catherine McKenney. When they first got elected as councillor two terms ago, they were the first openly lesbian municipal politician in Ottawa. They’ve got all kinds of gay cred, and it shows. 

Now they identify as trans non-binary and use the pronouns they/them, which is of course giving conniptions to all the right people. I love it when they aggressively insist they can use she/her pronouns and thus advertise themselves as not being worth anybody’s time or effort. Or at least, not mine. 

Like the guy at the parade holding a sign with some vaguely biblical nonsense about sin who at least was being quiet with his toxicity. He stood there being ignored in the hot-hot sun for nearly two hours. The kids almost took pity on him — nah, I’m pulling your leg. They thought he should just get lost. Or lost-er than he already was. 

McKenney was walking alongside their wife, holding Jellybean the dog, waving and smiling. Around them, a throng of enthusiastic folks handing out literature, smiling, dancing and having a great time. The group got a lot of applause as they walked by. 

Following not too far behind was an equally beaming Mark Sutcliffe and a slightly smaller crew of super-duper happy volunteers. They got a fair bit of applause, too, but less than what McKenney got. Fair enough; as far as I know Sutcliffe is perceived as a decent ally but he does not himself have much gay cred. 

The very last person to close off the parade was Bob Chiarelli, riding in the back of a pickup truck. He was smiling and waving… to the general indifference of just about everyone, since at that point we were all making a beeline for the nearest Starbucks.

Pride is much better attended now than when I used to take part in it 30 years ago in Quebec City. It’s a big family-friendly street party, not the x-rated show we used to put on. For one thing, there are a lot of straight people attending now, and not out of morbid curiosity either. It’s just a bunch of normal happy people out enjoying a fun parade and expressing support for gender and sexual minorities. 

So when those people applaud a political candidate perceived to be slightly to the right of centre, a safe, risk-averse candidate who won’t go too far too fast in any direction, you know he’s got some serious appeal that crosses ideological lines. 

Yet at the time I discounted it, secure in the belief that Chiarelli would take away enough of Sutcliffe’s support to allow McKenney to squeak through.

Not the way it happened, as we all know now. 

Here are my immediate post-election thoughts, in writing and on video. I’ll have a more forward-looking piece about how progressives need to adjust to the municipal reality later this week.