Canada, meet your new LGBTQ2S+ MPs

Of note:

After a gruelling 36-day campaign, Canada’s 44th federal election has officially come to an end, and a new Liberal minority government is at the helm. 

Throughout the campaign, Xtra identified 61 openly LGBTQ2S+ candidates running for the major federal parties. We also surveyed each of those candidates about the issues that mattered most to them. Of those 61 candidates, seven have won their seats and now serve as MPs across the country—a record number in Canadian federal history.

That number is up from the last federal election in 2019, when four openly LGBTQ2S+ MPs were elected. Many of those elected this time around were incumbents re-elected to serve another term. And of those, only one MP is a woman and one is Indigenous.

Here are Canada’s new LGBTQ2S+ MPs.

Blake Desjarlais, NDP, Edmonton Griesbach

Blake Desjarlais made history this election, becoming Canada’s first Two-Spirit MP elected to Parliament. A Métis/Cree man raised in the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement northeast of Edmonton, Desjarlais is one of just two LGBTQ2S+ first-time candidates to win their seat. Before entering federal politics, he served as director of public and national affairs for the Métis Settlements General Council. 

In response to Xtra’s survey to LGBTQ2S+ candidates, Desjarlais emphasized the importance of supporting and creating space for queer, trans and Two-Spirit folks, especially LGBTQ2S+ people of colour. 

Desjarlais also spoke to the significance of Two-Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQ+ representation: “Being Two-Spirit is an honour and it’s important to ensure other Two-Spirit folks see representation in Canada,” he wrote. Desjarlais currently stands as the only openly LGBTQ2S+ Indigenous MP in Parliament.

Randall Garrison, NDP, Esquimalt–Saanich–Sooke

Randall Garrison will be serving his fourth term as MP in the B.C. riding he first won back in 2011. Garrison has a long history serving LGBTQ2S+ Canadians; notably, in 2013, he tabled private member’s bill C-279, which would have added gender identity and expression as protected grounds against discrimination to the Criminal Code. He has also served as the NDP’s official LGBTQ+ SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) spokesperson. 

Garrison told Xtra via our candidate survey that his first priority would be banning conversion therapy on a national scale. (Bill C-6, which would ban the discriminatory practice, did not pass through the Senate before the election call.) “Calling an election was clearly a bigger priority for the Liberals than ending the torture and mental health challenges caused by this fraudulent idea that members of our community are broken and need to be fixed,” he wrote.

Garrison also pointed to the continued harassment and discrimination LGBTQ2S+ communities face in Canada. “Discrimination persists in government policies and programs and in the community at large, especially against transgender and non-binary Canadians,” he wrote. “While some progress has been made, we still have a lot more work to do in order to make sure that everyone in the community is treated fairly.”

Rob Oliphant, Liberal, Don Valley West

Rob Oliphant will be serving his fourth term as MP in the Toronto riding of Don Valley West. Oliphant was first elected in 2008 and served a term as MP before leaving office for the private sector; he returned to federal politics in 2015. In 2019, he served as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs.

Oliphant did not respond to Xtra’s candidate survey.

Seamus O’Regan, Liberal, St. John’s South–Mount Pearl

This marks Seamus O’Regan’s third term as a Liberal MP in Newfoundland and Labrador. First elected in 2015, O’Regan served a number of roles in the Liberal cabinet, including minister of veterans affairs and minister of Indigenous services. Before the election call, O’Regan was minister of natural resources.

O’Regan did not respond to Xtra’s candidate survey.

Randy Boissonnault, Liberal, Edmonton Centre

Randy Boissonnault returns to Parliament after losing his seat in 2019. First elected in 2015, Boissonnault was appointed Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues one year into his term as MP. In the role, he helped usher through Bill C-16, legislation that enshrined protections for trans and gender nonconforming Canadians in the Criminal Code and Human Rights Act. He also played a role in issuing an apology to former government workers affected by the gay purge.

In response to Xtra’s candidate survey, Boissonnault emphasized the need to pass legislation to ban conversion therapy. “This horrendous practice must be ended and I will fight every single day to see that improved and expanded legislation to ban it is tabled, debated and passed as quickly as possible,” he wrote.

Though he is one of five white, cis queer men elected to Parliament, Boissonnault also noted importance of recognizing intersections within the LGBTQ2S+ community. “As a white, cisgender member of the community I understand that my experiences are different than other members of the community. I understood this when I was first appointed as Special Adviser on LGBTQ2 issues,” he wrote. “We knew how important it was to ensure that voices of trans, non-binary, BIPOC members of the community were heard as we were consulting on the formation of the role and its mandate. I will always listen and be an ally to all parts of our community.”

Eric Duncan, Conservative, Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry

First elected in 2019, Eric Duncan will be returning to his Ontario riding as MP for a second term. Duncan became the unofficial LGBTQ2S+ spokesperson for the Conservative Party after his win in 2019 as the only openly-gay Tory in caucus. He’s best known for his calls to end the blood ban against queer men and trans women; in November 2020, he made headlines when he asked Minister of Health Patty Hajdu if she would accept a donation of his blood as an openly gay man. That fight, he told Xtra in April, is a personal one—he couldn’t donate blood as a closeted gay teen without outing himself. 

Duncan did not respond to Xtra’s candidate survey.

Melissa Lantsman, Conservative, Thornhill

Melissa Lantsman has become the only openly queer woman in Parliament with her election in the Greater Toronto Area. She’s long been associated with Conservative politics, working as a communications advisor to former prime minister Stephen Harper and a spokesperson for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in 2018. In 2020, Lantsman infamously tweeted that it was more difficult for her to come out as Conservative than it was to come out as a lesbian.

Lantsman did not respond to Xtra’s candidate survey.