Skip To Content

    Canada's Prime Minister Won't Say A Word About The U.S. Gay Marriage Ruling

    Stephen Harper’s office refused multiple requests for comment.

    Exactly one week ago the United States Supreme Court made history by striking down bans on gay marriage.

    Joshua Roberts / Reuters

    The celebrations extended to Canada, where gay marriage has been legal in every province for a decade.

    Opposition party leaders Tom Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May all went to the Toronto Pride Festival over the weekend where they praised the ruling.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not attend any Pride events, but BuzzFeed Canada reached out to his office to ask for a comment on the gay marriage decision.

    Patrick Doyle / Reuters

    We called the Prime Minister's Office Friday, the day of the decision. We were told to submit our question via email. We emailed that day and sent a follow-up email on Monday. We called again and sent another email today.

    No response in any form was given.

    Canadian Prime Ministers don't typically comment on court decisions in foreign countries, but it's not rare for Harper's office to issue releases about other countries. Two weeks before the same-sex decision the PMO sent out a press release about Philippine Independence Day.

    During his time in office, Harper has never attended a gay pride parade, though he is visible at other large public events.

    Thrilled to be at the #Stampede2015 parade with @LaureenHarper today. What a show! @calgarystampede

    His office routinely sends out press releases about holidays and events, such as Ramadan and a tall ships regatta, to name two recent examples. But the PMO did not issue a release last last year when Toronto hosted the international World Pride festival.

    Though Harper has been quiet on LGBTQ issues at home, his government has been a vocal defender of gay rights abroad.

    Pool New / EPA

    "While he has yet to show up to a Pride parade, Harper hasn’t attempted to curtail the march of progress when it comes to gay rights," said a Maclean's editorial.

    Former foreign affairs minister John Baird frequently condemned persecution of homosexuals abroad.

    The government also moved quickly to welcome gay Iranian refugees from Turkey.

    Being gay also has not been a barrier to success in the Harper government. Gay men have risen to the level of cabinet minister and chief of staff. But even those who are openly out personally refuse to talk about it to the press.

    Two years ago, the House of Commons considered a bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Canadians. It passed by a vote of 149-137, in part because 18 Conservative MPs supported it. Harper voted against the bill. (Senators made controversial changes to the bill and then essentially killed it by not passing it through the Senate before the end of this sitting of Parliament.)

    Showing up at Pride events can still cause a headache for Conservative politicians. When Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and MPPs Lisa MacLeod and Jack MacLaren attended Pride, they were singled out by an Ottawa radio host.

    Where a @CFRAOttawa host says he would "toss" @jackmaclaren1 & I "out of the building" for marching w @LGBToryCanada.

    "Both of these people have just tossed a major block of their supporters under the bus. Do that those they were marching with are suddenly going to vote tory? Do they think any of those people care one whit about property rights, smaller government or lower taxes?" wrote CFRA radio host Nick Vandergragt on Facebook.

    He concluded by saying "I would toss both of them out of the building over this and never let them back in. Talk about a sell out."

    Harper last had to confront gay marriage shortly after he became prime minister.

    Chris Wattie / Reuters

    During the 2006 election he promised to put the then-recently legalized gay marriage to a free vote in the House of Commons. A motion to restore "the traditional definition of marriage" failed despite Harper himself voting for it. A total of 13 Conservative MPs voted against the motion.

    “We have no intention of further opening or reopening this issue,” Harper said in 2012.

    He and his office have kept that vow.