LaPierre became forever associated with one of the most famous media moments in Canadian broadcasting history as co-host of the controversial current affairs show This Hour Has Seven Days.
The show, first aired in 1964, became famous for brazenly featuring topics that were considered risqué and occasionally offensive to viewers, including footage of the Vietnam War, interviews with white supremacists, and even a sit-down talk with Nathan Leopold (one half of the child-killing duo Leopold and Loeb).
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This Hour Has Seven Days was cancelled amid a firestorm of controversy in 1966, but LaPierre didn’t slow down. He ran for federal Parliament in 1968, vying for a seat to represent the Lachine, Quebec, riding for the NDP. After defeat, he would return to work as an academic, author, journalist and activist.
In 1988, LaPierre publicly declared his sexual orientation at an event on Parliament Hill, and thereafter became an increasingly vocal advocate for the rights of gay citizens across the country.
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While in the Senate, LaPierre became a staunch advocate of Bill C-250 to protect gay people from hate propaganda. In 2004, he sent emails to an avowed Christian who opposed the bill, stating, “You people are sick. God should strike you dead!” and “In a book that is supposed to speak of love and you find passages of hatred. You should be ashamed of yourself of reading such books!” LaPierre would ultimately apologize for sending the emails.
In 2009, LaPierre wrote for Xtra, recalling the elation he felt when Pierre Trudeau decriminalized sodomy in 1969.
“Free at last,” LaPierre wrote. “That’s how I first felt when I heard the news.”
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LaPierre is survived by his long-time partner, Harvey Slack, two sons from his first marriage, and several grandchildren.