Montreal shows its pride, along with a few PMs in historic parade

By Elysia-Marie Campbell

An estimated 300,000 people were out on Sunday afternoon for the 11th annual Montreal Pride Parade, organizers said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked in the march beside openly gay Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, marking the first time a foreign head of government has joined a prime minister in a Canadian Pride celebration.

Trudeau waved a rainbow flag and occasionally danced, while Irish leader Leo Varadkar walked beside him and waved to the crowds that lined the street.

"For all that we celebrate here in Canada, there is a lot of work to do around the world, and we need to build up our allies and stand together strongly for rights, for opportunities and for the values we know unite our countries, Trudeau said in an earlier news conference.''

The two prime ministers were joined in the parade by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Bloc Quebecois leader Martine Ouellet, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and a number of other federal and provincial politicians.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (right) at Montreal Pride on Sunday.

CTV Montreal

Not everyone in the crowd welcomed Trudeau's presence, or approved of his record on queer issues.

Crowd-goer Benjamin Carlisle told CJAD 800 News the parade is a party for the progress there's been, but there is still work to do. 

"I'm going to yell at my prime minister, because I want HIV decriminalized, because I think the MSM ban on blood donors is unscientific and homophobic, and because he boat-sized [inflated] the issue of police violence against queers at the Toronto Pride [Parade]," said Carlisle.

"There are a million reasons why he's being terribly disappointing on all of the queer issues," he added. 

Others in the crowd were in a much more celebratory mood.

Elysia-Marie Campbell/CJAD 800

A parade-goer who identified herself as Alex V., said that Pride meant a lot to her, even as a straight person.

"The gay community has given me so much acceptance and love over the years that this is my favourite day of the year," she said, adding it is amazing to come out and see people in love and celebrating who they are.  

"Right now we're living in a time where there's a lot of fear and hatred. That's why Pride now is so important because it shows togetherness," said Alex.

Her friend, who chose to identify himself only as Todd P., expressed what Pride meant to him.

"Being here, supporting, loving, remembering, being who you are," said Todd. 

Elysia-Marie Campbell/CJAD 800

An estimated 7,000 people were part of the parade.

It contained 270 contingents and six rainbow-themed floats and was led by members of local Indigenous communities. 

-with files from The Canadian Press