A jubilant, rainbow-hued crowd lined the streets of Montreal on Sunday as federal and provincial political rivals set their differences aside to march together in the city’s annual Pride parade.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May marched the length of the 2.7 kilometre-parade route, waving flags and shimmying to the music as they walked behind a float of dancing drag queens and a glitter-clad delegation from Pride Vermont, who donned inflatable unicorn float toys around their waists. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet was also present with a delegation from his party.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who has faced criticism from his rivals for skipping previous pride parades, did not attend. His team has said he shows support for the LGBTQ community in other ways.
At a pre-parade press conference, Trudeau highlighted the presence of Singh and May, as well as that of Quebec Premier Francois Legault and Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, and thanked them for being “faithful allies to the LGBTQ community.”
“There are many things we don’t agree on, but here today, we’ll always stand together,” he said.
Trudeau also reminded the audience that Pride is about more than parades and parties.
“Pride is about more than just coming out one day a year to celebrate, it’s about standing united on tough days too,” he said.
“It’s about saying no to homophobia, it’s about saying no to transphobia, no to hatred and discrimination in every form.”
Singh said to him, Pride was about “celebrating people for who they are.” He said an NDP government would work to bring in policies to promote equality, such as eliminating the barriers homosexual men face when giving blood.
Legault, who was booed by a small handful of protesters, said he felt showing up at Pride was part of his job as premier.
“I think we can be proud of Quebec. It’s one of the places where we’re most open, where we don’t make distinctions. Gays, lesbians miorities are welcome,” he said. “However there remains a small minority who have problems of homophobia, and transphobia.”
Trudeau, Singh and May also walked together in Vancouver’s Pride parade earlier this month.
The parade capped off an 11-day festival that included drag shows, concerts, panels, and tours of Montreal’s Gay Village neighbourhood.
But Montreal Pride president Eric Pineault said the event is about more than celebration, noting the organization received a record number of transphobic and homophobic messages on its social media platforms this year.
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