While it may have drizzled on our parade, the weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of those attending Montreal Pride this weekend. While the rain (and, in some cases, the pants) fell upon the participants at Community Day, the various organizations diligently set up shop to promote themselves. On Sunday many of these same participants took part in Montreal’s annual Pride Parade in some way or another.
Political organizations, lobby groups, and recognized parties set up stands and handed out fliers and condoms along St. Catherine’s street on Saturday. Participants included provincial parties like Quebec Solidaire, and Le Parti Vert du Quebec (PVQ), as well as their unrelated Federal counterparts. Originally, I mistook the Federal Green Party booth for the Provincial one, and was stunned when their volunteers struggled to remember who Alex Tyrrel—the PVQ leader—was! Along with the Greens, the NDP also participated, as did the Liberals. Fortunately, the organizers for Pride—having seen what can happen when the parties are in close proximity—placed them at opposite ends of the street. Ironically enough, the Liberals were, as they are traditionally in the political spectrum, right in the centre of the street.
A well timed, if rainy, visit from leader Justin Trudeau made the Liberals the queens of the street (surpassing even the performers at Mado!). Commenting on the Conservative attack ads as well as the recent break-in at his home, Trudeau met with and posed for pictures with existing and future supporters. This included yours truly, running for the nomination in Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. According to the Liberal volunteers at the St. Catherine’s street booth, Mr. Trudeau would march in the parade on Sunday as well. To do his part to make the parade even more family friendly, Trudeau remained fully clothed.
Three of the Five Federal Political parties participated in Montreal Pride this year, as they did last year. Take a wild guess as to which two who weren’t there? Now, granted, the Bloc Quebecois had an excuse. Just like the post-1993 Progressive-Conservatives could fit their caucus of two in a phone booth, so too will the Bloc soon be the New Phone Booth Party. When the sky, seats, and support in the polls are falling, it is understandable that you have better things to do than trying to curry support among significant portions of the populace. Besides, with the Greens at one end, the NDP at the other and the Liberals in the middle, where would the Bloc have set up?
More conspicuous was the absence of the Conservative Party of Canada, as was their absence at Montreal Pride last year (and at a number of other prides across the country). Fred Litwin, former Vice President of Ottawa Centre Conservatives—and an organizer of LGBT events—has tried to encourage Conservative participation in Ottawa Pride, but has yet to succeed. According to an interview with Litwin in The National Post, Tory Cabinet Ministers tend to get booed at LGBT events. This may be true, but, given the span of time since a Conservative member of Cabinet actually went to a LGBT event (outside of a bath house), perhaps it’s time to give it another try.
Gay Conservatives do exist after all. Just look at John Baird! He has had gay staffers, like Jamie Ellerton. The National Post even found a gay Conservative candidate named Chris Reid, and Scott Brison used to be a Progressive Conservative! Several years ago, Litwin organized a gathering of 800 gay conservatives at the Ottawa Westin Hotel, and Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth is a lesbian—Canada’s first openly lesbian senator. Quite seriously, with statistics like that, maybe it is time to give putting yourself out at Pride another try. If the Conservatives are really friendly toward LGBT Canadians, then maybe they should come on out. Or down. Or both.
Now, Rob Ford—Toronto’s right-leaning mayor—refused to go to World Pride, or the previous Toronto Pride celebrations due to the presence of naked men. Nevertheless, Pride is about being comfortable with who you are and celebrating the fact that you can be who you are in this wonderful country that we live in. If you want to wear a three-piece suit and allow the only leather on you to be part of your shoes, so be it! You’d be the most heavily dressed person at a Pride celebration, but at least you would be there. After all, if politicians really do care about their constituents, they go to them and help them feel comfortable. On the off chance the Conservative Party starts turning up at Pride events, they’ll get to see even more than 800 LGBT Canadians. (But let’s be realistic, we have a better chance of bringing Judy Garland back to life than that happening!)
In the meantime, Pride is for putting on your ruby slippers—whether you normally wear red, green, blue, or orange—and standing proud of who you are! Bon Fierté!