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Trudeau blasts Scheer for not marching in Canadian Pride parades for third straight year

Sunday’s Vancouver Pride Parade saw Prime Minister Justin Trudeau march through the city’s West End for the fourth straight year, the first sitting prime minister to do so.

Alongside him were NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May — but not Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

Trudeau couldn’t help but comment on the absence of his chief rival in the October federal election, bringing it up twice while talking to reporters.

WATCH: (Aired Aug. 3) Boycotting the Pride Parade

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“This is important to be here, to show we are standing unequivocally in favour of human rights and in defence of Canadians,” he said, referring to Singh and May.

“It’s just unfortunate that there are still some party leaders who want to be prime minister who choose to stand with people who are intolerant instead of standing with the LGBT community.”

READ MORE: Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to again be no-show at Pride parades

He was even more clear moments later when talking about the importance of speaking out against discrimination.

“I really wish Andrew Scheer were here today to pass that message to kids in rural areas who might be suffering bullying, suffering challenges, that we support them right across the board,” Trudeau said. “But I’m here with politicians who do.”

In an email Sunday, Scheer’s press secretary Daniel Schow responded to Trudeau’s comments by pointing out the Conservative leader’s track record standing up to discrimination and hatred “in all its forms.”

WATCH: Justin Trudeau becomes first PM in Canadian history to visit a gay bar

“Canada’s Conservatives have a proud history of fighting for the rights and protection of all Canadians, including those in the LGBTQ community, at home and abroad,” Schow said.

“There are many ways to support these communities, and it is vital that the rights all Canadians are protected regardless of race, gender or sexual preference.”

Scheer confirmed at the start of June he wouldn’t be taking part in any Pride parades in Canada this year, marking the third year in a row he declined to participate since being elected leader of the Conservative Party in May 2017.

READ MORE: Premier Doug Ford will not attend Toronto Pride parade due to exclusion of police participation

In an interview with the Globe and Mail last year over his decision not to attend, Scheer said he has supported the LGBTQ2 community through actions like calling on the government to condemn the persecution of LGBTQ2 individuals by Russia but does not think marching is necessary.

“Not everybody marches,” Scheer said in that interview. “There are other ways that I’ve chosen to show support for the community.”

Scheer’s brother-in-law, Jon Ryan — formerly an NFL punter, now with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders — was one of two grand marshals at the Queen City Pride Parade in Regina last year.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau walks in Toronto’s Pride parade

The Vancouver Pride Parade was supposed to have a presence from the Conservative Party, with Vancouver-Centre candidate David Cavey announcing he would be marching.

But Cavey withdrew from the parade last week after the Vancouver Pride Society uninvited the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) for hosting speakers who have been criticized for spreading “hateful” and “transphobic” messages.

UBC received blowback from the LGBTQ2 community for hosting Jenn Smith — who describes himself as a “transgender-identified male” and writes and speaks on “the dangers” of “transgender ideology” — at an event in June.

READ MORE: Vancouver Pride Parade arrives amid controversy over UBC, VPL exclusions

Two other B.C. post-secondary institutions, Douglas College and Trinity Western University, both cancelled talks by Smith earlier this year.

The VPL was also criticized for allowing an event hosted by self-described radical feminist speaker Meghan Murphy back in January.

Both institutions have since vowed to review their booking policies to ensure marginalized people feel safe and heard.

WATCH: Cloud of controversy hangs over Vancouver Pride Parade

On Saturday, Cavey said barring the institutions from an event based on inclusion is hypocritical and goes against Canada’s free speech laws.

“UBC has a long history, VPL has a long history, I have a long history, we all support the LGBT community,” he said. “The Pride Society preaches inclusion, and they are excluding public institutions for just simply doing their job.”

The Pride Society dismissed the news of Cavey’s withdrawal with a blunt statement, later saying Friday they had “no problem” filling his spot in the parade.

“We don’t have time to be dealing with political candidates trying to score points off the backs of our work,” the society said. “In the wise words of Ariana Grande, thank u, next.”

Trudeau voiced his support for the society’s decision, saying it’s important to hear the concerns of people in the transgender community.

“Unfortunately the LGBT community, particularly the trans community, have suffered tremendous discrimination that continues today, and I think it’s important the Pride community has the right to invite and include organizations it feels are allies,” he said.

“I know the goal of including everyone is really important, but it’s also really important to take strong stands against intolerance.”

—With files from Amanda Connolly

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