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By Michelle Zilio (@MichelleZilio)
One month before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau becomes the first federal first-minister to walk in the Toronto Pride Parade, he has raised the rainbow flag on the lawn of Parliament Hill.
Mr. Trudeau led an intimate, all-party flag-raising ceremony on the Hill, marking the start of Pride Month, which celebrates Canada's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. It was the first time the symbolic rainbow flag has flown on Parliament Hill.
"This is a great day for Canada and is part of a long series of milestones this country has hit over the years. It hasn't been easy. It hasn't been automatic. A lot of people fought for a long time for this day, and for the many days that led up to this day to happen," Mr. Trudeau told a group of parliamentarians, staffers and onlookers before he raised the flag on the Parliament Hill lawn.
Fellow Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, who is gay himself, sported a rainbow tie as he emceed the ceremony with Mr. Trudeau.
"We remember those people who lived and loved in silence, who have fought for the cause of LGBT rights and died for that cause. Today we say that we all belong," Mr. Boissonnault said.
The flag raising is the latest effort by the Liberal government to support Canada's LGBT community. Earlier this month, the government tabled legislation protecting transgender Canadians against discrimination and violence. Mr. Trudeau will also walk in the Toronto Pride parade on July 3 – something he has done before, but will do for the first time as prime minister this year.
The Liberal government is also working to make amends in regards to Canada's previous anti-gay policies. It is looking into pardoning men who were imprisoned because they were gay, including Everett Klippert, who was labelled a dangerous sexual offender because he was homosexual. Mr. Klippert died in 1996.
Ottawa is also considering whether to officially apologize to thousands of public service and military workers who were fired from their jobs because they were gay; the policy started in the 1950s and lasted for decades.
A government official told The Globe and Mail Wednesday the government continues to review the file and take it seriously, adding that it will provide an update when one is available. The official did not provide a timeline on the decision.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IN OTTAWA
By Chris Hannay (@channay)
> In the closed-door caucus meeting of Liberal MPs yesterday, sources say Mr. Trudeau said no one single incident led to Hunter Tootoo's resignation from cabinet to deal with alcohol addiction. A friend of Mr. Tootoo's said the Nunavut MP left the Liberal caucus so he didn't have the distraction or pressure of votes weighing on him as he seeks treatment.
> A newly disclosed confidential report indicates a federal spy agency inadvertently shared Canadians' private information with foreign-intelligence allies.
> With the assisted-dying bill now in the Senate, senators do not appear to be happy with the legislation.
> Quebec says federal bureaucrats are holding up infrastructure spending.
> China's foreign minister lost his cool with reporters yesterday.
> A leading human-rights researcher is raising fresh concern about Saudi Arabia's conduct in Yemen.
> B.C. MP Nathan Cullen is meeting with past New Democratic leaders – provincial and federal – as he prepares for a potential second run at the NDP's top job.
> And a poll by Insights West says politicians are the least-liked profession in Canada. Seventy-one per cent of respondents had a negative view of politicians, while only four per cent had a bad opinion of nurses. (Pollsters were seen poorly by 42 per cent, and journalists were tied with building contractors with one-third of respondents holding a negative opinion of them.)
> Ontario: The Liberals are out-fundraising their political rivals two or three times over.
> Alberta: Fort McMurray residents have started to return home.
> Newfoundland and Labrador: Controversy continues to brew over the severance of the former Nalcor Energy CEO.
WHAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT
John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail): "That apology [by the Premier of Victoria, Australia] is thought to be the first delivered in any legislature by a head of government for prosecuting and persecuting homosexuals. Now the Liberal government is studying whether Justin Trudeau should make Canada the first country to do the same." (for subscribers)
Campbell Clark (Globe and Mail): "At times, it seemed as though Mr. Trudeau was going out of his way to fuel the rumour mill, not quash it, with silence. This was the first minister to leave Mr. Trudeau's young cabinet. Mr. Tootoo was the only minister from the Far North, an Inuk who was seen as, if not a star, a bright light – smart, forthright, with charisma. He was a drinker, and smoked a lot of cigarettes, but his sudden departure was a surprise. Questions naturally follow." (for subscribers)
Jeffrey Simpson (Globe and Mail): "Assisted death is something new in Canada. We have only scattered international experience on which to draw. Our physicians and hospitals, where the deaths would likely occur, are not schooled in handling assisted death. Perhaps that explains why the Canadian Medical Association supports the government's bill that is somewhat more restrictive that the Supreme Court ruling. Who is to say with certainty, therefore, that the court or the government is right or wrong on an issue so new and complicated?" (for subscribers)
Neil Macdonald (CBC): "Politicians are notoriously unable to decide such matters, and given the option, will discuss them indefinitely, and given a deadline, will likely miss it, which Parliament is in the process of doing right now with the government's bill to regulate medical assistance in dying."
Martin Regg Cohn (Toronto Star): "In ordinary times, Ontarians are in referendum mode, rendering judgment on the incumbent alone: Ask about the premier's performance, and they tend to give him or her a poor grade because it's just a question asked by a pollster. But ask voters in the polling booth if they are ready to swap in a Progressive Conservative or NDP government and they shift from a referendum mindset to an election dynamic. Will they be ready in 2018 to support the newish, youngish, PC leader who is slowly, painstakingly, making himself heard? Impossible to say, for Patrick Brown remains an enigma more than a year after taking over the job. Voters are giving him high grades even though most can't even name him."
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