Elenore Sturko’s defection to BC Conservatives confuses, disappoints LGBTQ+ advocates

LGBTQ+ advocates in B.C. say some in their communities are confused and disappointed by the political defection of legislator Elenore Sturko to the BC Conservatives, whose policies she once opposed.

Charmaine de Silva, a former co-chair of Vancouver Pride, says she’s heard from community members who can’t understand how Sturko’s professed values line up with those of a party whose leader has called for the abolition of the sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum in B.C. schools.

Sturko, who is gay, has been a prominent advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, but on Monday she said she was leaving the official Opposition BC United for the Conservatives and now believed the curriculum was “divisive” and eroding parents’ trust in public education.

De Silva, a former Director at CityNews who now works for communication firm Hill and Knowlton, says it’s a concerning shift for a once-vocal defender of the curriculum, known as SOGI 123.

The president of Surrey Pride, Martin Rooney, says he’s “extremely disappointed” in Sturko.

He says he’s hopeful she can remain an ally but finds it hard to believe that as a candidate she will be able to stray from the positions of her new party and Leader John Rustad.

Sturko said Monday she would “never abandon” LGBTQ+ causes but there was “room for everybody” in a “big-tent” Conservative Party of BC.

The former RCMP officer represents Surrey South but will run in October’s provincial election in Surrey-Cloverdale, a riding now held by the governing NDP.