The popularly known Canadian Pride parade signified a milestone on Sunday as a sitting prime minister marched for the first time in a colourful procession that was greatly affected by last month’s shooting massacre in Orlando, Florida.
The mass number of marchers and multi-colored floats stood still on Yonge Street to mark a moment of silence accompanied by numerous onlookers, to remember the 49 victims shot, mostly LGBTQ.
Canadian Prime Minister, Trudeau said that Florida’s tragedy is a reminder that “We can’t let hate go by.”
Commencing the 36th annual parade, he said: “We have to speak up anytime there is intolerance or discrimination.”
A noticeable part of the procession was a large black banner held by a pair of marchers which read “Orlando” and “We march for those who can’t.”
Other marchers walking in a group were dressed in pastel-colored robes and carried signs containing the names and age of each Orlando victim as they walked down the route.
Trudeau’s presence caused an energetic reaction from those who marched the parade route. He has participated in the parade before, including last summer, but this year marked his first as a prime minister.
Members of the crowd, some wearing rainbow gear and strange costumes, posed for selfies with the prime minister and shouted his name as he passed by.
Other politicians also joined in the march including Orlando premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Rona Ambrose, the interim leader of the federal Conservatives.
Earlier on, before the start of the festivities, Trudeau was present at an outdoor church service in the centre of the city’s gay village where he sang along to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
Talking to local news station CP24, he highlighted the fact that the federal government is considering the possibility of gender-neutral identification. Last week, Ontario also announced that that it would start using a third gender indicator, X, for driver’s licenses and health cards.
“It’s something we’re looking at federally, we’re just trying to figure out the best way to get around to doing it,” he said.
Justin Trudeau also relegated his presence at the parade as normal, mentioning that he had been attending the Pride parades for years.
“It shouldn’t be a big thing that a prime minister’s walking a Pride parade, and from now on it won’t,” he said.
The parade seals the Pride festivities in Toronto, which had certain celebrities in attendance like George Takei and Lindsay Lohan.
Because of the Orlando shooting, tighter security was implemented at the parade. Police officers, with most wearing uniforms with the Pride rainbow on them, were evident on streets adjacent to the parade route.
Many officers seemed to be having a pleasant experience, posing for pictures and tweeting them.
The parade was shortly delayed due to activists from the Black Lives Matter movement holding a sit-in on the parade route. However, after conversing with Pride officials, the sit-in ended peacefully and the parade continued.