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Montreal Pride Parade organizers cancel event, citing lack of security



MONTREAL — Pride Montreal abruptly cancelled its iconic annual parade hours before it was to get underway on Sunday, citing security concerns stemming from a lack of volunteers for the event.

Festival Executive Director Simon Gamache said the march, which was to cap days of celebration of LGBTQ+ communities and which had been scheduled for Sunday afternoon, would not have been able to proceed safely.

“We were missing more than 80 people this morning, it’s a lot,” Gamache said in an interview, adding the absentees represented more than a third of the number needed for the parade to go ahead.

Montreal’s Pride Parade has been celebrating the progress of LGBTQ+ rights, diversity and inclusion for the last 40 years, and thousands of people were expected to march through the downtown core on Sunday.


Pride Montreal issued a statement on Twitter, saying it made the decision with the support of city police because there were not enough volunteers to ensure safety along the parade route.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said on Sunday she was shocked to learn of the cancellation, calling the event “the most important LGBTQ2IA+ event in North America.”

“I will not hide my surprise and my dissatisfaction to learn in the newspaper this morning that it wouldn’t take place, a few hours from the start,” she said at a news conference. “If we had been aware of a lack of manpower, or even anything, we would have put the necessary energy.”

Gamache said this year’s Pride festival fell prey to the kind of labour shortages currently plaguing numerous sectors in Quebec and beyond. He also said COVID-19 cases were reported among the volunteers in the last few days, in addition to heatstroke and heavy fatigue.

“Yesterday … we have the necessary resources, but it was very limited,” he said.

Even though the event was cancelled, a few hundred people showed up at the initial rally point to celebrate diversity.

Montreal police escorted the attendees carrying the traditional rainbow flag and played music as they marched down the streets in an improvised parade.

Several marchers expressed their disappointment with the formal cancellation, but said they were still happy to see Sunday’s event take another form.

“Of course it’s disappointing,” Suzie Guinard, a spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ advocacy group GRIS-Estrie, said in an interview.

Guinard, however, said she understands how difficult hiring staff can be given the ongoing labour shortage.

Christian Tanguay, executive director of the non-profit organization Centre communautaire LGBTQ+ de Montréal, agreed.

“Everybody is in the same boat, it’s been very hard for everyone,” Tanguay said. “But it really takes volunteers to be able to organize all these events.”

Other planned festival activities went ahead as scheduled at the Olympic Park on Sunday afternoon. Gamache said another event might be organized to replace the parade.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 7, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.


The Canadian Press


Ottawa requests joint ‘working group’ on oilsands contamination with Alberta



Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has further spelled out what he wants to see in a new body that would oversee monitoring and communications around pollution problems in the oilsands.

In a letter dated March 16 to his Alberta counterpart Sonya Savage, Guilbeault said the new federal-provincial-Indigenous group would look at a wide variety of issues stemming from releases of tailings pond water from Imperial Oil’s Kearl mine. Although Savage has agreed to a new joint body, Guilbeault’s proposal seems to go farther than what she suggests.

“I am proposing the establishment of a joint federal-provincial-Indigenous working group, with participation from the oil companies, to give transparency to all parties involved by meeting on a regular basis to discuss remediation and containment plans, as well as notifications for ongoing incidents of spill or seepage,” Guilbeault wrote in the letter.

“A communication protocol should be established,” he said. “It would be the basis of improvements for future environmental emergencies notifications, reform of water monitoring and strong involvement of Indigenous communities.”


Guilbeault said the exact mandate has yet to be determined. Still, it seems to be more than Savage wants.

A statement from her office earlier this week said Alberta wants to improve communications and start a group for “accelerating collaboration on a long-term solution for the treatment and remediation of tailings ponds.”

That statement didn’t mention including First Nations in the group or any reforms to monitoring.

Guilbeault’s letter refers to Ottawa’s responsibilities in protecting fish habitat and treaty rights, both of which may have been affected by the Kearl releases.

That’s a message to the province that Ottawa intends to have a greater role in monitoring the oilsands, said Martin Olszynski, a professor of resource law at the University of Calgary.

“What (Guilbeault’s) saying is, ‘Let’s be clear, I have to be involved.’ The jurisdiction is clearly there for the federal government.”

Ottawa has been criticized both at home and internationally for inconsistent enforcement of the Fisheries Act.

In 2020, the environmental watchdog set up under North American trade agreements found there was valid evidence of oilsands tailings in groundwater around the ponds but no sign that it had affected any federal enforcement decisions. That same body found little co-ordination between Ottawa and Edmonton on the issue.

Guilbeault’s letter may be a sign the feds are taking action on those concerns, Olszynski said.

“They recognize this is a bigger issue. It’s not just about notification, it’s a question of what is going on with these tailings and their management.”

The first release from Kearl was spotted and reported in May as discoloured water near a tailings pond. It was found to be tailings seepage but no further updates were provided to area First Nations until February, when it was disclosed to the public and both environment ministers along with a second release of 5.3 million litres of tailings.

Imperial said earlier this week that the cleanup of the second spill is nearly complete. It said the seepage is being “mitigated,” although it continues.

Both Imperial and the provincial government say there has been no impact on waterways or wildlife, although neither have granted requests to see the data on which that assurance is based.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2023.


Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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Canada sending four more battle tanks, ammunition to Ukraine



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that Canada is providing Ukraine  with more weapons, which he says will help the country win on the battlefield against Russia.

Trudeau says Canada will donate four additional Leopard 2 main battle tanks to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine, growing Canada’s contribution to eight tanks in total.

Canada will also donate an armoured recovery vehicle and over 5,000 rounds of ammunition.

Trudeau committed to imposing more sanctions on people and businesses that are complicit in Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine.


On the one year anniversary of the invasion, Trudeau called Russian President Vladimir Putin a coward and weak, and reinforced that Canada is a friend of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters in a press conference on Friday that more weapons will allow his people to regain their territory.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.

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Funeral underway for four-year-old boy killed in Quebec bus crash last week



Quebec bus crash

A funeral is underway for one of the two young children killed when a bus crashed into a daycare last week in Laval, Que., just north of Montreal.

The bells of the Ste-Rose-de-Lima church tolled at 11 a.m. as five men carried the small white casket of Jacob Gauthier into the sanctuary.

A funeral notice published last week said Jacob was four and a half and is survived by his mother, father, sister, as well as grandparents and other extended family.

Media were asked to keep their distance as family and friends made their way into the church, past tributes of stuffed animals and flowers that were placed outside the door.


Four silver cars from the funeral home pulled up shortly before the service started, and men could be seen unloading large displays of white flowers.

Samir Alahmad, the president of the province’s private daycare association, said it is hard to describe the magnitude of the parent’s pain.

“Every parent in Quebec, every citizen in Quebec, should feel the pain those people are suffering now,” he said outside the church. “There’s no words to describe what the family is suffering today.”

More than a week after the tragedy, “we still don’t have an answer for how this happened,” he said.

The alleged bus attack at the Garderie Éducative Ste-Rose on Feb. 8 left two children dead and sent six to hospital with injuries.

Pierre Ny St-Amand, a 51-year-old driver with the Laval transit corporation, was arrested at the scene and later charged with two counts of first-degree murder and seven other offences, including attempted murder and aggravated assault.

Funeral details for the second child, who was identified by her parents as Maëva David, have not been announced.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2023.

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