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MP slams junior cabinet minister over Gay Pride support
Chris Wattie/ReutersCanada's Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism Diane Ablonczy, seen with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
OTTAWA -- A Conservative MP is telling reporters in his Saskatchewan riding that cabinet colleague Diane Ablonczy has been relieved of the tourism portfolio for signing off on a $400,000 grant for Toronto's Gay Pride parade.
Messages to Ms. Ablonczy's office were not returned Tuesday but a spokesperson for Industry Minister Tony Clement said Ablonczy, a Calgary MP, is still the minister of state for smallbusiness and tourism. Ms. Ablonczy is one of two junior ministers within Industry Canada.
Brad Trost, a three-term 35-year-old MP from Saskatoon, in an e-mailed statement, said, "Diane is doing a good job, but she didn't handle all details right on this file."
Mr. Trost's claim that Ms. Ablonczy had been fired for giving money to fund a parade which celebrates homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered culture and routinely attracts tens of thousands of tourists was made in a report on an anti-abortion website. LifeSiteNews.com quoted Mr. Trost saying funding approval for the parade "was a very isolated decision"and "was not supported . . . by a large majority of the MPs."
The funding for the event came out of a government project called the Marquee Tourism Events Program, an initiative that will see $100-million invested in large-scale events over the next two years to promote the tourism sector. Events such as the Calgary Stampede and the Montreal International Jazz Festival have received funding through the program.
"The pro-life and the pro-family community should know and understand that the tourism funding money that went to the gay pride parade in Toronto was not government policy," Mr. Trost told LifeSiteNews.com. "Canadian taxpayers, even non-social conservative ones, don't want their tax dollars to go to events that are polarizing or events that are more political than touristic in nature."
Mr. Trost, in an e-mailed statement to Canwest News, confirmed that he was accurately quoted by LifeSiteNews.com.
Darren Cunningham, Mr. Clement's director of communications, said the approval to fund the gay pride parade, as with all funding approvals for the program, were made on the basis of their potential to provide economic stimulus for the tourism industry.
Mr. Trost, at LifeSiteNews.com, says:"It should be noted that the file has been reassigned to a different cabinet minister since that announcement was made. The whole tourism program and funding for major tourism events is being reviewed."
Mr. Cunningham said he could not say why Mr. Trost came to that conclusion but confirmed that funding for recipients for all marquee tourism events are routinely reviewed to ensure the grants achieved their objective of providing economic stimulus.
Mr. Trost referred other questions to Mr. Clement.
Kory Teneycke, the prime minister's director of communications, also referred calls on the issue to Mr. Clement's office.
Lifesitenews.com also quoted Mr. Trost as saying "almost the entire Conservative caucus" and "most of the Prime Minister's Office were taken by surprise at this announcement."
The annual Pride Parade in Toronto is the anchor event of Toronto's Pride Week, which celebrates diversity. Organizers said this year's parade, held on June 29, was watched by 600,000 people on a Toronto television station. Toronto media reported that tens of thousands lined the parade route in the city's downtown.