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Tory leadership candidate Peter MacKay plans to walk in Toronto Pride parade

Click to play video 'Peter MacKay officially launches bid for CPC leadership' Peter MacKay officially launches bid for CPC leadership
Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay has officially launched his campaign to lead the Conservative party.

Tory leadership candidate Peter MacKay has announced he plans to march in Toronto’s Pride parade this summer and is inviting all Conservatives to join him.

In a statement issued from his official Twitter account on Tuesday, MacKay said that “Pride parades are important” and that he has applied to march in Toronto Pride’s parade on June 28.

MacKay, who formally announced his campaign on Jan. 25, 2020, in Stellarton, N.S, stressed that he will march as a private citizen if he does not win the leadership convention scheduled for June 27 in Toronto.

READ MORE: Former cabinet minister Peter MacKay announces Tory leadership bid

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MacKay was unequivocal in his statement on Tuesday, saying that “we live in a world where sexual orientation and gender identity are still used by tyrants and bigots to belittle and oppress.”

“In Canada we are lucky to have a society that has grown more tolerant, more accepting, and more understanding, but there is still more work to be done,” MacKay said.

The former cabinet minister took a not-unsubtle shot at fellow leadership hopefuls, saying that the fact “some will condemn this statement speaks louder than any argument I could make” for the next Tory Leader to march in support of Pride.

Click to play video 'Peter MacKay says he will stand up to Trudeau; vows to ‘unite’ Canada' Peter MacKay says he will stand up to Trudeau; vows to ‘unite’ Canada
Peter MacKay says he will stand up to Trudeau; vows to ‘unite’ Canada

Leadership candidates are likely to face questions on whether they are willing to take part in Pride parades after current Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer decided against taking part during his three years as leader.

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Ontario MP Erin O’Toole implied that he would be willing to march in Pride parades during his announcement to run for Conservative party leader on Monday.

On Tuesday, O’Toole clarified his remarks and said that he would not march in Toronto Pride’s parade as long as “its policy is to exclude Canadians, especially uniformed police officers.”

READ MORE: Federal Conservatives head into 2020 with leadership race and other battles

O’Toole and MacKay are the two front-runners in the race after former Quebec premier Jean Charest, former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose and current MP Pierre Poilievre decided not to run last week.

In order to officially register as a candidate, contenders must submit an application, a $25,000 instalment on the $300,000 entry fee and the first 1,000 of the 3,000 required signatures, all by Feb. 27.

Others who have officially announced their intention to run include two other Ontario MPs, Marilyn Gladu and Derek Sloan.

With files from the Canadian Press