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Tory praises Pride support

A gay member of the Conservative caucus is applauding junior cabinetminister Diane Ablonczy’s financial support for Toronto’s Pride Week, adecision that put Ablonczy in the hot seat with some socialconservatives.

A gay member of the Conservative caucus is applauding junior cabinet minister Diane Ablonczy’s financial support for Toronto’s Pride Week, a decision that put Ablonczy in the hot seat with some social conservatives.

And Senator Nancy Ruth says the MP who publicly criticized Ablonczy is one of only a handful who grumbled about the $400,000 tourism grant at a June caucus meeting.

“I give Ablonczy 100 per cent credit for choosing not politically to discriminate against something Pride Toronto had a legitimate reason to apply for and met all the criteria,” Ruth said in an interview Thursday.

“It takes guts not to discriminate when you know there is a faction within your party who isn’t going to like it. That takes guts and courage and I admire that.”

Ruth was appointed to the Senate as an independent in 2005 by Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, but joined the Conservative caucus a year later.

She is a well-known women’s rights activist, one of the founders of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and a member of the Order of Canada.

She says she has never felt any awkwardness about the fact she is gay from Prime Minister Stephen Harper or any of his staff.

“It just isn’t an issue. I’m first and foremost a women’s rights activist.”

But Ruth says a small minority in the caucus have made it known to her in subtle ways that they don’t approve of her sexual orientation.

“This isn’t party specific, I think it’s more religion specific or philosophy specific — there are those who don’t like gays and don’t want them around,” said Ruth, who is an ordained United Church minister.

Ablonczy announced the grants under the new Marquee Tourism Events Program at a June caucus meeting. When she mentioned Toronto Pride among the other names, Ruth says, a few MPs made audible sounds of disapproval. But the issue was never discussed, and their indignation was not acknowledged at the time by Harper.

 
 
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