Poilievre misses Pride flag raising, says he was working late

Click to play video: 'Poilievre responds to anti-LGBTQ2 laws in Uganda, does not comment on participating in pride march'
Poilievre responds to anti-LGBTQ2 laws in Uganda, does not comment on participating in pride march
WATCH ABOVE: Poilievre responds to anti-LGBTQ2 laws in Uganda, does not comment on participating in pride march

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says he missed the Pride flag raising on Parliament Hill Thursday because he had been up late working the night before.

Poilievre’s team held press conference in Parliament’s West Block Thursday morning to discuss the Liberal budget and the Conservatives’ desire for rewrites to balance the budget.

The press conference began just as the Pride flag was being raised outside the House of Commons – an event attended by other party leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet did not attend but told reporters he would have had he known about the event, while Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman and the Bloc’s women and gender issues critic, Andréanne Larouche attended.

Asked directly about his decision not to attend the flag-raising, Poilievre pointed to his hours-long, late-night speech in the House of Commons Wednesday during debate on the budget implementation bill.

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“I was working last night, until midnight, fighting against inflation and interest rate hikes,” Poilievre responded, “and that was my focus and will continue to be my focus.”

Responding to a question at a press conference last week, Poilievre wished “everyone a happy Pride month, because our freedom is something in which all of us can take pride.”

At the time, Poilievre did not directly answer whether or not he would take part in any Pride events or parades this year. Instead, he talked about freedom for LGBTQ2 people to marry, start families and be free from “bigotry and bashing.”

Click to play video: 'Poilievre filibusters for hours in attempt to delay Liberal budget'
Poilievre filibusters for hours in attempt to delay Liberal budget

Statistics Canada reported a record number of hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2021 – the most recent year for which police-reported data is available. According to the data, there were 423 hate crimes targeting people for their sexual orientation in 2021, up from the previous peak of 265 in 2019.

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Police-reported hate crime data is imperfect, and likely understates the total number of crimes where a person’s sexual orientation was a factor.

According to StatCan, 77 per cent of sexual orientation-motivated hate crimes in 2021 specifically targeted the gay and lesbian population.

Asked about violence against transgender people – a group that has been more recently targeted by right-wing politicians in the U.S. – Poilievre said “every Canadian, regardless of who they are … deserves to be safe.”

“And if anybody commits violence against any other Canadian, then they should be thrown in the slammer. We should have serious consequences for violence committed against any person, regardless of who that person is, regardless of the motive of the crime,” Poilievre said.

– with files from Global News’ Jillian Piper

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