Not a single candidate for council in the Township of Emo responds to inclusion survey.
On September 11, 2022, Borderland Pride issued a survey questionnaire to the 6 first-time candidates for council of the Township of Emo.
The short survey canvassed the candidates' views on the municipality's legal dispute with Borderland Pride over the current council's 2020 decision to refuse to recognize Pride Month. The survey also sought general comments from the candidates on their views about Pride and inclusion in the municipality. The purpose of this survey was to develop a more positive relationship with the incoming council, to give candidates a chance to share their views on inclusion, and to open the door to resolution of the ongoing proceeding at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
The covering letter Borderland Pride sent to candidates with the questionnaire can be viewed here. The questionnaire was issued to candidates Geoffrey Pearce, Lisa Teeple, Gerald Wieringa, Dr. Phil Whatley, Frank Szeder Jr., and Russ Fortier. Incumbents were not surveyed as their views are widely known on these issues from the previous term. Sadly, despite having almost a month to complete the questionnaire, as of today not a single candidate responded. The deadline was October 7.
Social media comments and published writing by mayor and some candidates raise concerns about homophobia and discrimination by the next council in the Township of Emo.
It can only be assumed that, at best, none of these candidates were willing to make comments which might be critical of the current council towards Pride and LGBTQ2 inclusion. At worst, it would appear that the candidates are endorsing the unlawful actions, discrimination, and ignorant rhetoric of the current council. Some of the candidates' own online comments would appear to suggest as much:
It is disappointing that no one aspiring for leadership in Emo wishes to address homophobia in the community and on its council. Their silence reflects a grave misunderstanding of their role in elected office. It also demonstrates their own willingness to continue wasting taxpayer dollars to fight losing legal battles.
The municipality is subject to Ontario’s Human Rights Code. As we have stated numerous times, in every single case we have seen where a municipality has refused a request for a Pride resolution or proclamation, the complainant has been successful at the Human Rights Tribunal. Likewise, we expect to be successful in this proceeding.
It seems the current council will spare no expense to cling to their discriminatory and illegal actions. Mayor Harold McQuaker, Councillor Harrold Boven, and Councillor Warren Toles have now caused the municipality to spend almost $40,000 in legal fees. They continue to take steps to oppose any reference to LGBTQ2 inclusion in the municipality, including as recently as September 13, 2022, when McQuaker and Boven objected to an equality declaration brought forward by two other members of council.
It is shocking to us how deeply entrenched these views are, how much public money these politicians are willing to spend to defend them, and how little members of council and candidates for the next council appear to understand about their responsibility to manage risk for the municipality and ensure the municipality complies with Ontario’s human rights and discrimination laws. It is shameful.
Leadership starts at the top, and this intractability is perhaps unsurprising considering the record of the Mayor’s own published writings about LGBTQ2 people and their equality:
Emo town council rejects Pride proclamation (Media Release, May 12, 2020)
Emo council sticks with discriminatory resolution (Media Release, May 26, 2020)
Discrimination complaint filed over municipal refusal to recognize Pride (Media Release, June 22, 2020)
Borderland Pride surveys candidates for Emo council (Media Release, September 11, 2022)
Emo councillors oppose equality declaration (Media Release, September 14, 2022)