Canadian LGBT rights advocates on Monday welcomed Justin Trudeau’s unexpected defeat of long-time Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports that Trudeau’s Liberal Party won 54 percent of the seats in the Canadian Parliament, compared with the 29 percent that Harper’s Conservative Party retained.
The National Democratic Party won 13 percent of the seats. The CBC reported the Bloc Quebecois won 3 percent, while the Green Party gained less than 1 percent of the seats.
“I want to say this to this country’s friends around the world: Many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years,” Trudeau told his supporters in Ottawa after the election results, according to the Associated Press. “Well, I have a simple message for you on behalf of 35 million Canadians. We’re back.”
Trudeau, who is the son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, is the first Canadian prime minister to have marched in a Pride parade.
— Pride Toronto (@PrideToronto) October 20, 2015
The younger Trudeau during the campaign pledged to end the country’s ban on gay blood and organ donors that Harper expanded. The prime minister-elect also said he would support efforts to add gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the country’s hate crimes law.
“He made his positions pretty clear,” Kim Vance, executive director of ARC International, a global LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Tuesday during a telephone interview from Nova Scotia. “The fear of the rollback of rights are gone now.”
Vance said Harper’s party during the campaign tried to “create fear and divide us along many lines.”
“Clearly Trudeau’s message was to unite and move us forward and reestablish Canada’s reputation that respects human rights and advance a human rights agenda,” said Vance.
The Canadian Parliament will have six openly LGBT members as a result of Monday’s elections.
Liberal Party MPs Scott Brison of Nova Scotia and Rob Oliphant of Ontario and New Democratic Party MP Randall Garrison of British Columbia won re-election in their respective races. Randy Boissonnault of Alberta and Seamus O’Regan of Newfoundland and Sheri Benson of Saskatchewan, who are members of the Liberal and New Democratic Parties respectively, also gained seats in the Canadian Parliament.
Daily Xtra, a Canadian LGBT newspaper, reported that Boissonault and Benson are the first openly gay MPs to represent their respective provinces in the Canadian Parliament. The publication said Benson will be the only out lesbian parliamentarian in Ottawa.