HALIFAX — Throngs of people lined the streets of downtown Halifax Saturday to see a sitting prime minister walk in the city's Pride parade for the first time.
The rainbow-clad crowd erupted in cheers as Justin Trudeau marched in the procession with his family at his side.
Trudeau was dressed casually in a pink shirt and white pants, while wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau wore a wide-brimmed hat to shade herself from the sun.
The prime minister waved and yelled "Happy Pride!" to thousands of people along the parade route, stopping periodically to take selfies as members of the crowd called out his name.
A couple of drag queens decked in makeup and voluminous wigs wrapped their arms around Trudeau as they posed for a group photo, after which the buxom blonds thanked the prime minister with a hug.
"What a pleasure it is to be here," he told them. "We all are together."
Trudeau walked near the front of the procession, intermittently flanked by marchers carrying a rainbow flag, a group of princesses and a float spouting confetti.
As the festivities paused for a moment of silence, Trudeau raised his fist alongside several other members of the crowd.
Trudeau became the first sitting prime minister to march in a Pride parade when he did so in Toronto in 2016, then attended the same event last month.
He told reporters Friday that he longs for a day when his participation in Pride events won't be so novel.
"I'll be the first prime minister to walk in the Pride parade in Halifax, but I'm very much looking forward to getting that over with so there won't be any more 'firsts' and that it just be expected that prime ministers, when their schedules allow, march in Pride parades across the country," he said.
"(It's) not just diversity of backgrounds, but it's a diversity of everything that makes us different as Canadians and that includes standing up strongly for the rights of the LGBT2Q community."
Sydney Augustine-Bower made the roughly two-hour journey from Antigonish, N.S., to Halifax so she could attend her first Pride parade. Augustine-Bower, who identifies as pansexual, said it was heartening to see the leader of Canada showing his support for the LGBTQ community.
"I think it sends a really important message that the prime minister of Canada ... is going to dance around with a bunch of people, a part of the community that (was) oppressed for long," Augustine-Bower said. "I think it's great that these two groups of people who are very different can come together and have fun."
Upwards of 120,000 people participate in the Halifax Pride parade every summer, organizers said, and they expected an even bigger turnout this year thanks to their "special guest."
Official police floats banned
Halifax's police service said in February that it would not participate in this year's Pride parade amid a "national debate" about police involvement in such events.
Pride Toronto members had voted to ostensibly ban official police floats from marches and parades in January, adopting a list of demands put forward by that city's chapter of Black Lives Matter.
Some local groups — including the Queer Arabs of Halifax, the Dalhousie Student Union and the South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre — have said they are boycotting the parade after a resolution to remove a pro-Israel campaign from the event was defeated at Halifax Pride's annual general meeting last October.
The first Halifax Pride March was held in 1988 with just 75 people. Since then, it has grown to each summer.