Reader urges MV Council to ignore anti-Pride protest

Open Letter in response to anti-Pride Petition

Dear Mayor and Council,

It has recently come to my attention that a delegation has requested that the council rescind its decision to recognize June as pride month in Madawaska Valley, describing the decision as ‘controversial’ and complaining about lack of public consultation. This is only a controversial decision to those who seek to make homosexuality a controversy. I urge council to remain steadfast and not give in to the demands of some nearly 500 signatories for the following reasons.

In perspective this a township of over 4,000 residents, if this group is demanding consultation, what do the other 3,500 people who didn’t sign have to say? I admit 12.5% is a somewhat significant number and as residents are entitled to present their concerns. However, please consider the impact of giving in to this group of people. The Madawaska Valley will not do well in the outside media in the eyes of non-residents. We do not want to be painted in the same light as Norwich Township who voted to forbid non-civic flags, namely the pride flag from being flown. The pride flag represents the LGBT community but also signifies an attitude of tolerance and acceptance of all people. If Madawaska Valley chooses to shun or at least remain apathetic to these values I’m afraid I will become embarrassed to tell people this is where I was born and still choose to live and work. It will be a signal for people to think twice before coming here -we don’t want diversity, we’re trying to fight against the modern world here!

Furthermore please consider the implications for the younger generations, imagine a young person in one of our local schools who is struggling to come to terms with being born gay in a small community that can be less than accepting and understanding. The township signaling that it’s ok for you to be here could be tremendous for that child’s feeling of well being. Gen Z who are now in their early 20’s and overwhelmingly liberal will remember ‘oh that place where we visited the country isn’t actually that nice and welcoming to me and my friends. I’m never going back there’. We need tourism to exist. We need young people and families to want to be here if we want to grow or at least maintain our population. Please do not signal to the outside world that we are a place that chooses not to recognize and celebrate diversity.

Many of the signatories have expressed the view that dedicating an entire month is disproportionate to the perceived percentage of LGBT people within the community.

We are forgetting here that we do not exist in isolation. June is a tourist month and people of all kinds visit from all over. It is important to project that we are and strive to be a friendly place for all people.

Some of the signatories have written letters presenting religious arguments as reason to rescind support for pride month. While this is a religiously dominated community, I would like to remind the council that while everyone’s opinion has the right to be heard, religion itself should have no impact on governmental decision making. i.e. religious doctrine cannot be used as an argument for or against any municipal decisions.

Other arguments consist of the thought lines ‘if we favour one group we will have to cater to anyone who wants a month long celebration’. This is a bad faith argument. Council isn’t proposing to spend millions on pride month, this is nothing but a digital flag and a formal recognition of the LGBT community. It is not setting some beholden precedent for generations to come. Council will remain perfectly capable of making decisions on a case by case basis.

The LGBT community is increasingly becoming more and more culturally influential. Whether or not there is a sizable population within the Madawaska Valley.

The recent adoption of pride colours by many very large corporations shows they have calculated that it is worth enduring the wrath of the vocal minority in order to appeal to the much much larger majority or people who are supportive of pride month.

Please follow the example of the majority of Canada and embrace pride month as a symbol that Madawaska Valley believes in kindness and inclusivity.

Liam Gansterer

Madawaska Valley

Editor’s Note: In view of MV Council’s decision to uphold its Resolution, comments have been closed for this article.


  1. Elaine Murray

    Very well written Liam. Thank you for writing such a thoughtful and well-positioned letter capturing all the reasons council should stand by their decision. They did their jobs by discussing and debating the issue, as they should as our elected representatives.

  2. Mark Woermke & Jason Derouin

    An excellent letter Liam! As former residents of Barry’s Bay, it is nice to know that some Madawaska Valley citizens and business owners are willing to demonstrate their support for LGBTQ+ residents and visitors. We were also pleased to learn that Madawaska Valley council did not revisit its decisions to declare June Pride month and to display the Pride flag on its electronic billboard.

  3. Mary Susan Smith

    Thank you for such a thoughtful letter and to council for not backing down in the face of a small but vocal minority of residents. Makes me proud of the town in which I grew up.

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