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Dear Premier Prentice;

I graduated from high school in Alberta ten years ago, and I am gay. I like to think there are more interesting things about me, but these are the relevant points right now. At my school, there was no such thing as a gay-straight alliance, but you might know that already – I went to the same private school as your daughter.

We’ve met a couple of times, not that I’d expect you to remember me – I gave you a demonstration at our school’s science night that you seemed interested enough in, given you were busy being an MP at the time. And I met you when me and two friends who are just as nerdy as I am decided to visit all the MP’s constituency offices in Calgary – you were one of two Members of Parliament that we met. You seemed … perplexed. I get that. I too would have been perplexed by the trio of youngsters who decided to spend their free time visiting politicians, had I been in your shoes.

You seem perplexed by the issue of gay-straight alliances now – and what you should do about them. You seem not to know if there’s a good enough reason to make sure that every student that wants to start a gay-straight alliance has the ability to do so.

I didn’t come out of the closet until the end of my first year of university. I didn’t feel that there was much support, or that I would have been treated fairly or with kindness, had I been open about my sexuality while I was in high school. I didn’t know what the reaction of my classmates would have been. I was scared, terrified, at being more of an outsider than someone who visits constituency offices for fun already is.

I know now that many of my classmates would have been supportive. I know them to be progressive, welcoming, and kind people. I think that had I given them the chance to accept me, they would have done so. Instead, I waited. I sat in the closet and internalized the darkness that surrounded me.

Kids do not get to choose what schools they go to. I didn’t choose to go to the school I attended. This is not to say that it was a terrible experience for me, and I still think I received an excellent education. But there was darkness. And there were times where I felt unbearably alone – that nobody I knew would ever speak to me again if I told my classmates who I was.

I’m still friends with many of them, and I know now that I was wrong then. What I wish, Premier, is that I had known then that I was wrong. I wish I had known then that I would have been accepted. I wish I had not spent so many nights in high school wishing and hoping that I wasn’t gay.

I want you to know that a gay-straight alliance would have helped me to know then what I know now. I want you know that some kid who you shook hands with a decade ago on science night would have been less afraid of everyone around him had he had that resource available. I want you to know that you have the power to help other kids that are in the same position as I was, kids who are surrounded by and afraid of people who would have accepted them, regardless of whether they go to a public school, or a Catholic school, or that private school that you chose for your daughter, and my parents chose for me.

You have the power to help. Isn’t that why people get into politics?

Sincerely yours,

Matthew Naylor

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Nomination Watch

So, a couple of people are running for the nominations across the country. Here’s what I know so far, and a bunch of rumor and hearsay.

Vancouver Quadra:
I voted in my first federal election last year – my first election ever, actually. And I cast my vote for Stephen Owen, but he has now decided to step down as the candidate. Which is fine, I guess – I had no strong feelings on the man one way or another. Nevertheless, I am elated that he has stepped down, because it opens up the riding for Joyce Murray, the former campaign chair of the Team Dion in BC, and a really great woman. There are a couple of people running against her for the nomination in this fairly safe seat, and I don’t particularly know who they are, but I am just so impressed with Joyce that I would never consider supporting anyone else. I just want to see how she’s going to preform in question period – whether she is going to be great, or excellent – that is the question.

Papineau:
So, good ole JT is running in Papineau. And I am duly impressed that he has not decided to go for the nomination in a place like Outrement or Lasalle-Emard, safe seats both, and instead elected to go and try and get elected in a Bloc riding. A winnable one, yes, but a Bloc riding nonetheless. So, kudos to you, Justin.

Toronto Centre:
I have no idea Meredith Cartwright is, but she somehow got a hold of the email address (both of them that the party has, in my case) for every Liberal in the nation. And she’s running. For Parliament. In the most annoying way possible. That said, she seems qualified, but I’m going to reserve judgment on how the race shapes up. The only other person that I’ve heard considering this riding is Bob Rae, but I think he should run in Toronto Danforth.

David Orchard:
He’s going to run. I just have no idea where. Saskatchewan, rural Ontario or Manitoba, and even Quebec has been bandied about as a potential home for this “blackberry-wielding organizational colossus”.

Calgary in General:
Who’s running? Heesung Kim probably, and maybe Jennifer Pollock again. The campaign chairs are Pat Raymaker and Kevin Feehan, the Dion Convention Chair and the RRO for Alberta respectively. They are so qualified, I think we may be able to win more seats than the 2004 election. I’m interested to see who we put up against Jim Prentice, and if Art Hanger is retiring, and we get the right candidate (and there is … one) then Calgary North East could be in play.

Edmonton Centre:
Annie, who still runs this riding, has apparently picked Nicole Martel to succeed her. I wonder if there will even be a nomination race.

Other things going on:
I was elected as the VP-External of the Alma Mater Society of UBC, after a fairly hard fought battle against The Knoll and other candidates. So, I have to fill out Lobbying Registration forms now, and get on lobbying for Post Secondary Education to Minister Coell in BC. Expect to hear some more about PSE in the year to come. If you are at all interested in what my platform was, check out www.votenaylor.com, or see the introduction of Jeff Friedrich and me in the BC Legislature by Rob Fleming (at two minutes and forty five seconds in). And, I’m pretty sure he meant to say “not the last time”. Anyway, let’s lobby together, and am interested to see how the SFU Defederation campaign turns out.

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