People are calling out Jason Kenney for a joke about gender neutrality at the Ontario Progressive Conservative convention this weekend.
Kenney, a former minister in Stephen Harper's government and currently the leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party, addressed Ontario conservatives at a Toronto hotel ballroom on Saturday before the results of the leadership race were announced.
"Ontario has always played a special role as the older brother of Confederation — or as Justin Trudeau would say, the gender-neutral sibling of Confederation," Kenney said to laughter and scattered applause.
That joke didn't go over well with some people watching.
Many people interpreted it as mockery of trans and gender nonbinary people.
"Is respecting human beings for who they are, and who they identify as, really so terrible?"
Others expressed disappointment that Kenney's jab got such an approving response from the Ontario PC Party members.
Jason Kenney has long been criticized for his approach to LGBT issues. As leader of Alberta’s official opposition, he has suggested informing parents in some cases if their children join gay-straight alliances in school — a position LGBT advocates equated to “outing gay kids.”
Kenney also voted against marriage equality in 2005 when he was a Conservative MP, although he supported a change to the federal Conservative Party’s policy in 2016 to drop its strictly heterosexual definition of marriage.