Every year, Victory Institute holds a conference once a year for LGBTQ Leaders from around the world. The 2018 conference was from December 6th to 8th, and this year we held a preconference program sponsored in conjunction with the Organization of American States.
Our intern Logan Graves assisted with the running of the event and sat down with one of the event’s main speakers, Randy Boissonnault, Canadian Member of Parliament from Edmonton, Alberta. He is one of six openly LGBTQ MPs currently serving in Canadian Parliament and serves as the Special Advisor to Prime Minister Trudeau on LGBTQ issues.
“Why did you decide to run for office?”
Mr. Boissonnault said he wasn’t happy with the direction that the country was heading in. A slow, sluggish economy was a major role in his decision and he wanted strong voices from Alberta represented in Ottawa. Besides policy, he mentioned that he’s a choirmaster with other MPs and together they sing the Canadian National Anthem, a good example of his willingness and ability to be friendly with those who he may not see eye-to-eye with. Mr. Boissonnault stated that he made some commitments with his running for office and has delivered on those promises.
“What is the achievement you are the proudest of?”
Mr. Boissonnault is proud of, in his role as special advisor to the Prime Minister, of his pulling people into a committee so that the government can hear about their experiences as an LGBTQ person. Prime Minister Trudeau issued an apology publicly to the LGBTQ community on behalf of the government of Canada in November 2017, due to the recommendation and assistance from Boissonnault. Mr. Boissonnault has also added a number of protections for transgender Canadians that were added to the hate speech code.
“How receptive is Prime Minister Trudeau to Boissonnault’s ideas?”
Mr. Boissonnault made sure to point out to me that not only is he receptive, but that the special advisor position he holds was created by Trudeau as he wanted advice on LGBTQ issues and felt that Boissonnault was the best person for the job, reaching out to him directly to ask him to fill the advisor role.
What would you do if ever there was a sudden reversal in policy and administration, similar to what we experienced in the U.S. after Trump’s election?
Boissonnault said that we would need to be anchors for the fundamental rights of minority groups and for these groups to believe in equality for all other groups. He pointed out that regardless of which party is in power, there will be work for equality to be done. He feels that the arc of justice always bends toward doing the right thing in the end.
Boissonnault left me with the closing message that privilege is invisible to those who have it. It is thus the job of those who have this privilege to make sure it becomes invisible for everyone else.
Thank you again to MP Boissonnault for your time and for talking with me. Your perspective is critical in this current political climate and more elected officials need to have the mindset you have.