An outdoor event for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau near Toronto was cancelled on Friday due to security concerns prompted by protesters.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered at the event that was to be held in the parking lot of a hotel in Bolton, Ont., about 50 kilometres northwest of Toronto.
A podium was set up for Mr. Trudeau to speak and circles were drawn on the ground for physical distancing for supporters attending the event. But prior to Mr. Trudeau’s arrival, a number of protesters, many of them opponents of COVID-19 vaccination, gathered and began to scream expletives. Some also waved flags and held signs.
Local police, as well as RCMP, were on site.
Friday’s event was delayed by two hours and then a volunteer apologized and said the event would “no longer be taking place here today.” The individual also thanked people for their support and said their top priority was everyone’s safety before they asked them to make their way home.
A number of demonstrators on the campaign trail have expressed reservations about vaccines, an issue that has been a key focus for Mr. Trudeau. He has often told protesters at other events to go and get vaccinated.
In a park in Brampton, Ont. later on Friday, Mr. Trudeau said the event had to be cancelled because going ahead would have put supporters at risk.
He said he is not going to stop talking to Canadians, who are going to decide, not just how to end the pandemic, but how the country moves forward.
Mr. Trudeau added that everyone had a difficult year – including the protesters.
“We all had a difficult year. And those folks out protesting? They had a difficult year too.”
Mr. Trudeau said over the past year with this pandemic there has been an increase in anxiety, anger, frustration, and sense of powerlessness. “I’ve never seen this intensity of anger on the campaign trail, or in Canada. Not when I was a kid even when with my dad visiting out west, where we did see anger. Certainly not in my last 12 years as a politician.”
Mr. Trudeau said he’s ready to do “big things” for the country and that he’ll continue to connect with Canadians over the coming weeks. He said he won’t change his message that the way out of the pandemic is to get vaccinated.
After the event’s cancellation, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said on Twitter that everyone deserves to be safe on the campaign trail.
“I am very sorry to hear this happened tonight to Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal team,” he wrote. “I hope that everyone is OK.”
The Conservative Party also weighed in on social media.
“The Conservative campaign condemns the use of obscene and extreme language by some protesting Mr. Trudeau’s appearances. Many families, some with young children, attend events such as these. It should be a positive experience, whatever their political affiliation,” the campaign said on Twitter.
Before the stop in Bolton, Mr. Trudeau faced angry demonstrators at an event held at St. Phillips Bakery in Nobleton, Ont.
Some held signs outside the business and many swore.
Mr. Trudeau was to fly back to Ottawa on Friday evening. His campaign is scheduled to have a day off on Saturday and resume on Sunday.
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