I tried calling you yesterday. I was told you were unavailable. I left a message for you to call me back, but you didn’t. This morning, I called one of your workers to get through to you. You still didn’t call me back. So I’m going to write it as an open letter instead, with the hope that you read this again and give me a call.
When I first read the transcript of your interview with the Carillon, I couldn’t believe you actually suggested that a then 16 year old gay kid may have organized people to drive by and yell gay slurs at him while on national television.
But apparently you did.
I don’t think you truly understand what you did.
Ted, you marginalized an already marginalized kid, part of a demographic that is not getting a lot of love these days in Steinbach. This fall, the furor over Bill 18 had subsided for the most part, and we were all moving on with our lives. The news cameras were gone, the petitions were over, and Evan was trying to live a normal life, finishing grade 12.
And then you went and threw him under the bus. You, a 53 year old married man who takes his grandkids on the campaign trail promoting family values, threw a high school student under the bus. Unprovoked and out of the blue, no less.
Do you see what you did?
I thought you’d realize your error. Yesterday, before I called you, I told my friends: “Ted made a mistake. All he has to do is apologize, admit that he was wrong, and move on. We all make mistakes. Admitting them publically can sometimes be considered a character strength.”
Evan publically denied organizing homophobic slurs to be yelled at him, and stated his shock and hurt at your suggestion, and was hoping for an apology.
And then I read your statement.
You simply said that you had no idea if it were staged or not and that you’re against bullying.
Ted, by you not apologizing, you are indirectly saying that Evan’s story might not be true. And thus, you are saying that a then 16 year old of might have lied, deceived, and manipulated an entire community/province/country. You are casting doubt on his words without a shred of evidence suggesting the contrary.
Do you see what you did here? Now, a 17 year high school student, whom everyone recognizes, is accused of not telling the truth. How do think he feels? His family? His friends? His community? Have you even talked to him in all of this?
He didn’t seek out the press this time. They approached him. He said yes in order to clear his name and show a bit what his life is like in Steinbach. And when he’s being interviewed on TV today, guess what happens? Someone drives by and yells another homophobic slur at him. Do you think that he staged that one too?
My faith leads me to defend the cause of the weak and to seek justice. This is not a question about orientation, lifestyle, agenda, faith, religious rights, or politics. In my little way, I will not stand silent while are using your position of power and influence to marginalize a minor. This is unacceptable.
Ted, I expect more from you. This goes beyond politics and the by-election happening on Monday. This is about you and your words creating an unsafe environment for a vulnerable population, all the while hoping to represent them in Ottawa on Tuesday morning.
I hoped you would apologize, or at least explain why you said what you said, but apparently that’s not going to happen. But I continue to hold out hope that you will work to restore broken relationships.
You have my phone number. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.