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Politics Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Andrew Scheer both skipping Pride Parade in Regina

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer participates in an interview in his office on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

The office of Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won’t be attending this month’s Queen City Pride Parade in Regina because of a heavy international travel schedule but will be in the province on the day of the event.

“During Queen City Pride, the premier is planned to be in his constituency of Rosthern-Shellbrook,” Mr. Moe’s spokesman Jim Billington said in an e-mailed statement.

“With international travel scheduled in the premier’s itinerary for the month of June ... many other events are considered along with other demands on the premier’s schedule while he is in different regions around the province.”

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Mr. Moe is attending meetings in Washington next week with senators, members of Congress and three senior members of the White House to discuss trade. He’s also attending the Western Governors Conference in South Dakota from June 25-27.

Lisa Phillipson, one of the organizers of the June 16 parade, said there are no hard feelings.

“It’s not that he snubbed us in any way. From what we understand, it’s just that he’s a busy guy doing busy-guy things,” Ms. Phillipson said on Friday. “So understandable being the premier and having a lot of stuff to do.”

Ms. Phillipson said no Saskatchewan premier has attended the parade, which is in its 29th year. About 80 floats or walking groups will be participating.

“We totally invite (Moe) to save the date for next year and hopefully he can come and join us for our 30th. That would be awesome,” Ms. Phillipson said.

The provincial government says it supports the LGBTQ community and several members of the Saskatchewan Party caucus will be at other Pride parades in the province.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who represents Regina-Qu’Appelle and said in January he wouldn’t march in Pride parades, is skipping the Regina event. Mr. Scheer’s brother-in-law Jon Ryan, who is from Regina and punts for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, is one of the parade’s grand marshals.

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Jake Enwright, a spokesman for Mr. Scheer, said Mr. Scheer won’t attend partly because because organizers won’t allow police officers to march in uniform.

Mr. Enwright pointed to the Conservatives’ condemnation of the persecution of gay men in Chechnya and by Islamic State fighters as proof of where the party stands on LGBTQ issues.

“We’ve introduced a motion in the House to condemn the persecution of gay men in Chechnya at the hands of the Russian government,” he said.

Whether to allow officers to wear their uniforms in Pride parades has been a controversial issue across Canada.

In Toronto, the country’s largest municipal police force recently dropped a bid to rejoin the parade this year after being banned in 2017. Event organizers said the presence of uniformed officers would make members of the LGBTQ community feel unsafe.

Ms. Phillipson said the decision not to allow uniformed officers came after many long discussions and is supported by Regina police Chief Evan Bray. Safety concerns were the biggest factor, she said.

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“There’s some folks ... that haven’t had the best run-ins with the police,” she said. “There’ve been (transgender) individuals that have been misidentified and then misgendered.

“The police historically have been known to have some violence associated with some of their policing practices when it comes to the queer communities as well.”

Saskatchewan Opposition and NDP Leader Ryan Meili is planning to attend the Regina parade as well as the one in Saskatoon on June 23.

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