A weekend tour of British Columbia continued for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday as he spoke at a Pride breakfast in Vancouver before marching in the annual Pride parade.
He told the audience gathered at the Junction Pub in Vancouver’s Davie Village that while many places in the world could do with more tolerance, Canada should move beyond simply tolerating the differences in its communities and choose to love them.
“No religion in the world says ‘Tolerate thy neighbour,’ it’s love them, accept them, befriend them,” Trudeau said in front of a rainbow-coloured banner.
Trudeau was flanked onstage by longtime Vancouver Centre MP Hedy Fry and PFLAG Canada’s Vancouver chapter president Colin McKenna.
McKenna thanked Trudeau for the apology the prime minister offered to the LGBTQ community in the House of Commons last November for decades of discrimination.
Trudeau commended McKenna and the work PFLAG Canada does across the nation, saying their message of openness, respect, and compassion can impact society in a way the government cannot.
“When you talk about social change, change in families and communities, we need more than just a government saying what you should be doing,” he said.
A few hours later, the prime minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to reporters briefly before joining the parade, cheered on by thousands of people lining the sidewalks of Robson Street.
Trudeau said that though there has been a lot of progress made for the LGBTQ community over the past two years, there was still much more to do.
“It’s really important to continue to march in pride. We know that far too many homeless youth are from the LGBT community, we know the rate of teenage suicide is four times as much as in other communities, and eight times as much where the kids don’t have supportive parents.”
Danny Romandan was marching with the float ahead of the prime minister and said he was in awe that Trudeau would walk in the parade at all, let alone with him.
He added homophobia was rampant in his home country and coming to Canada had allowed him to truly be himself.
“I hate it over there quite a lot that I can’t express myself. Here I find the prime minister of Canada is marching with me and it’s amazing, and beautiful, and means so much,” said Romandan before returning to his megaphone.
Fifteen-year-old Layla Spies, adorned with two rainbow flags tucked into her hair, a rainbow neckband and strings of coloured beads draped around her neck, said she was excited to see Trudeau walk past her and her mother.
Spies said she thought it was a great sign for progress that the highest member of the Canadian government supports pride, noting that many places in the world do not tolerate homosexuality.
“It just shows a lot about how far we’ve come, and a bit about how far we still need to go.”
The prime minister was to wrap up his day in Metro Vancouver at a Liberal Party of Canada fundraiser at a berry farm in Delta, B.C., about 45 minutes south of Vancouver.