The Road To Equality - Ottawa


"These two crusading gay rights activists, just like the prime minister and the Governor General, have advisors at their disposal, amass documents for release at the most politically potent time and, when necessary, pull out bullett proof vests and heavy, rented muscles to ward off the unfriendly opposition"
The Ottawa Citizen, June 12, 2021


Photo of Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa in front of Ottawa's Peace Tower (Photo by, 2002)
Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa in front of Canada's Peace Tower and the House of Parliament


"It is doubtful if any human rights cause could find more effective spokesmen than Bourassa and Varnell."
The Ottawa Citizen, June 12, 2021




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June 9 - 10, 2002

We woke up in Turin, Italy, at 6:30 in the morning, five hours after we got back to our hotel following another late-night Piedmont dinner. Groaning at the thought of a full day of travel after inadequate sleep we pulled ourselves out of bed and began packing, promising each other (as we always do) that "next time we won't pack quite so much".

Gargoyle on Peace Tower (Photo by, 2002)One hour and six pieces of luggage later, we were whizzing down the road, leaving the winding streets of Turin behind. We hung around the Amsterdam airport for an hour before boarding a plane to follow the sun across the Atlantic to Toronto. Grateful to see sunshine, we changed terminals and caught one last plane in the late-afternoon to Ottawa, capital of Canada. Its fitting that our Canadian book tour begins in this city, as it is the place where our struggle begins and ends.

By the time we arrived at the Arc Hotel, we were exhausted, to say the least. You can imagine how quickly we Women are Persons - The Famous Five Declaration in the Journal (Photo by, 2002)agreed to surrender our luggage to the young man who greeted our cab outside the hotel. Joe and I were welcomed at the reception desk with a glass of sparkling wine which we carried up to our room. The room's modern furnishings and treatments aimed to relax and soothe the guest. The stereo was tuned to a jazz station. Somewhere Over The Rainbow was playing. No kidding. We were home.

A shower, another glass of wine with dinner in bed, and we fell into the deepest, most comfortable sleep imagineable until, our 5:00 a.m. wake-up call. Our first appointment was at 6:15 a.m.:

The Menu Of The Day at the New RO (Photo by, 2002)

  • The New RO's Breakfast Television (live)
  • Breakfast Interview with The Ottawa Citizen's Paul Gessell at the Chateau Laurier
  • Roger Television's "Day Time" (live)
  • CKUO, taped radio interview with Bob Gougeon
  • CJOH TV News taped interview (CTV network)

Joe Varnell getting wired for sound, prior to a live appearance on Ottawa's Breakfeast Television.  Publicist Valerie Fletcher looks on.  (photo by, 2002) It was fitting that the first day of our Canadian book tour began in Ottawa, our nation's capital. It is where, ultimately, our fate will be decided, at the Supreme Court of Canada, because our politicians, hiding in the citadel on the hill, lack the courage to honour our rights and freedoms.

Thanks to Stephanie Gowan (Doubleday) and Valerie Fletcher for making our first day a success. We look forward to our return to this city!

Kevin Bourassa

Kevin Bourassa with Famous Five (Photo by, 2002) Canada's Famous Five forced the Canadian government to recognize women as persons, and therefore gain the right to vote. Kevin Bourassa stands in solidarity and hope that GLBTs will also one day enjoy full equality and end government discrimination.



Listen to Joe Varnell & Kevin Bourassa in conversation with Bob Gougeon
CKUO, The Writer's Sudio, June 10, 2021)