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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 291 > LEADING THE WAY

LEADING THE WAY

CANADA MADE HISTORY LAST MONTH WHEN IT ISSUED A FORMAL APOLOGY TO ITS LGBT+ COMMUNITY FOR PAST PERSECUTIONS. IN A WORLD EXCLUSIVE, ATTITUDE EDITOR CLIFF JOANNOU MEETS THE COUNTRY’S PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU AT MONTREAL PRIDE

It’s August in Montreal and it’s a wonderful 26C as the LGBT+ population gears up for a monumental Pride event. Montreal’s citizens are flocking outdoors, and the bars and restaurants extend out into the streets as the city embraces the sunshine. The main gay thoroughfare, Rue Sainte-Catherine, is closed to traffic. Rainbow baubles festoon the lampposts overhead.

The event, the first to be designated Canada Pride, is taking place in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hometown, which is also marking its 375th birthday. In addition, the country is commemorating the 150th anniversary since confederation and Canada as we know it today was founded. There’s a lot for Canucks to celebrate in 2017.

That’s not to say life in the world’s second largest country is perfect. As with most nations around the globe, Canada has its fair share of internal issues, but by comparison and for a country often highly rated for its quality of life, it’s a relative utopia. It certainly isn’t having to deal with the level of crisis enveloping Europe as it struggles to maintain a fragile unity, the chaos engulfing the government of the USA, or the ongoing troubles in the Middle East and Zimbabwe.

Where strong and stable in the UK means weak and wobbly, Canada projects a confident and progressive image. Central to Canada’s positive PR is Justin Trudeau: an intellectual, charismatic politician who has seized › the world’s attention. And let’s be honest, it would be disingenuous not to suggest that his handsome looks aren’t what first attracted the media’s gaze.

But what has held Attitude’s interest beyond that is his steadfast belief in equality, and the fact that he is arguably the world’s most pro-LGBT+ political leader. Ahead of Attitude’s exclusive interview and photoshoot with the prime minister, I am invited to join him walking the route of the inaugural Canada Pride. On the morning of Pride, I arrive for a press conference at the Queen Elizabeth hotel.

Given that one of the G8 leaders is in the house, there’s a strange serenity in the air. I walk casually into the lobby and ask for directions to the conference room where our meeting is taking place. I make my way to the first floor to find our photographer setting up, in the company of a few suited security men, to whom I am introduced. Their demeanour is amiable, the atmosphere relaxed. I wonder whether this would be the case with Trudeau’s peers. I highly doubt it. Outside the window the crowds gather, lining the street in anticipation of the parade.

The day before, I received the news that the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in Montreal for meetings with Trudeau and will be joining the entourage on the parade route with his partner, Matthew. It’s the first time a foreign head of government has marched in a Canadian Pride event. Trudeau, meanwhile, has been a familiar face at Prides for a number of years.

The PM’s press team arrives to greet me and we discuss the day’s events. They seem unnervingly relaxed and loose about the schedule. I feel as if something will go wrong at any minute and months of planning will be for nothing. There are several news outlets here, too, but Attitude is the only media granted one-to-one access for an exclusive interview and photoshoot.

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About Attitude

World exclusive! Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Plus: Alt. rockers Mashrou’ Leila, the shocking reality behind rising HIV rates in Russia, Instagram poster boy Max Emerson, and Bananarama.