Sunday, January 27, 2013

Canadian Queer History in the Making - Kathleen Wynne

Ontario's Liberal party - struggling on so many fronts these days - nevertheless made history yesterday in selecting Kathleen Wynne as their new leader, and by extension, the new Premier of the province.  The second woman to head the Ontario Liberals, Wynne will become the first woman to be Ontario's Premier.  And more excitingly for me, she will be the first openly gay Premier in Canadian history.  Now, whether the Ontario Liberals, who are in a fairly precarious minority situation right now, will be able to hold on to power for much longer, is an open question.  But in the short term at least, history has been made, and there will certainly be a new line in Canadian history textbooks marking this Canadian first.

Of course, many have asked in the past 14 hours why the adjective "openly" is always added into the newspaper headlines and mentions by media commentators.  This speaks to the rather interesting media culture in this country.  From all accounts, Wynne is not in fact the first gay premier in the country (for the highest-profile instance, do a quick search on New Brunswick's long-serving Progressive Conservative premier Richard Hatfield, who passed away in the early 1990s, or follow this link to a story in the Globe.).  But the media culture in Canada is loathe to out a politician who has not come out.  And so we've probably had other instances of gay premiers, and likely gay party leaders, cabinet ministers, etc. who were not openly gay.  In many of these cases, their sexual orientation was an open secret to the media, their friends, their close acquaintances.  But there is still quite the culture of privacy in Canadian reporting on this issue.

So, congratulations to Kathleen Wynne on being selected as Ontario's new premier, and to Ontario's Liberal convention delegates for selecting her as your leader.  It is a marker of how much has changed in this province over such a short period of time.

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At 10:35 am, Blogger Jae/Jennie said...

Calling her "Ontario's first openly gay premier" is being precise. But calling her "Ontario's first openly lesbian premier" is just not thinking through what you're saying. *g*


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