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Canada will have its second openly gay premier Feb 21, when Wade MacLauchlan is likely to be acclaimed as leader of the Prince Edward Island Liberals and become head of government.
Ontarians elected Canada’s first openly gay premier, Liberal Kathleen Wynne, in June 2014, after she won her party’s provincial leadership contest the previous year.
MacLauchlan, a former president of the University of PEI, is a political neophyte but is running unopposed in a contest sparked by the November resignation of Robert Ghiz.
MacLauchlan, 60, is the son of Harry MacLauchlan, an entrepreneur whose ventures in construction, property development, retail, fuel services, tourism and telecommunications are said to have employed hundreds of Islanders. The younger MacLauchlan holds degrees from UPEI, the University of New Brunswick and Yale and served as president of UPEI from 1999 to2011. His campaign website notes that his partner, Duncan McIntosh, is the founding artistic director of a local theatre company.
Island LGBT activists say MacLauchlan’s upcoming premiership is a sign of changing attitudes in PEI. The tiny province, home to just 140,000 people, was the last in Canada to pass human-rights legislation covering sexual orientation and one of the last provinces to legalize same-sex marriage.
“When I first came here and was fighting for human rights, I was recognized everywhere because I was in the media for that,” says Nola Etkin, one of the founders of Abegweit Rainbow Collective, one of the Island’s early LGBT groups. “It was pretty rare for somebody to be that out. Things have changed a lot, so that’s great.”
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