Mulcair, Duceppe criticize Harper for not attending Montreal Pride

Thousands marched in Montreal's annual pride parade but, this year, there was a heightened political tone at the event.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was the only major party leader not in attendance

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre meets Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau at Montreal's Pride Parade. (Ryan Hicks/CBC)

Thousands marched in Montreal's annual Pride parade but, this year, there was a heightened political tone at the event.

With a federal election campaign underway, all the major party leaders took part in the parade, except Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

His adversaries took turns denouncing the incumbent prime minister, with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair saying Harper's absence was "noted."

Pride Montreal founder not surprised

The founding president of Pride Montreal, Éric Pineault, said he's not surprised that the Conservative leader chose not to attend, adding that he feels as though the LGBT community hasn't been a priority for Harper's government. 

Mulcair, along with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Green party Leader Elizabeth May and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe all walked near the head of the parade.

Harper made campaign stops Sunday in Ottawa and Amherst, N.S.

Speaking to a group of supporters, Mulcair promised an NDP government would address an "historic wrong" by correcting the service records and formally apologizing to military personnel and civil servants who lost their jobs over their sexual orientation in the past.

"There's a lot that the federal government can and should do to remove discrimination in society," he said. "Mr. Harper should show up at some of these events, but it's clear from his systematic refusal to take part that it's not very important to him."

Duceppe accused Harper of doing nothing for the rights of people in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

He accused the Conservative leader of having a "completely outdated mentality."

Conservatives say 2 local candidates attended

In response to criticism over Harper's absence, the Conservative Party sent the following statement to CBC News: "The Conservative Party was represented at today's parade by two local Conservative candidates." 

Those candidates were Steve Shanahan for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—L'île-des-Sœurs and Richard Sagala for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount.

Organizers say more than 200,000 people attended the parade on Sunday.

With files from The Canadian Press


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