Trudeau campaign rally canceled due to safety concerns of angry anti-vaccine protesters

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Dozens of protesters, some with children, used profanity in chants, waved middle fingers and referred to the Nazis using megaphones

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The Liberal campaign called off an early evening rally on Friday after a group of unruly protesters denouncing Justin Trudeau and pandemic policies sparked security concerns, with Trudeau himself saying continuing the event would have put people in danger.

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Dozens of local Liberal supporters, some with young children and dogs, gathered in the parking lot of a hotel in Bolton, Ont., Northwest of Toronto, to hear Trudeau speak.

Dozens of protesters followed the liberal campaign until the rally. They used profanity in chants, waved their middle fingers, and referred to the Nazis through megaphones as a line of police stood in front of them.

Speaking in nearby Brampton on Friday night, Trudeau said the campaign could not ensure the safety of those present and would have put volunteers and others at risk.

“It wasn’t something I was prepared to do,” he said.

It was the third such incident on Friday where Trudeau faced protesters angry over his government’s pressure on vaccine passports and vaccination warrants for travelers.

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Protesters opposing masks, vaccines and lockdown measures to tackle COVID-19 harassed the Liberal leader during the election campaign, but he generally responded politely and often shouted through his mask, “Do -vaccinate yourself ”.

Some got their children to yell at Trudeau, one Friday night holding an orange sign saying “I need freedom.” The crowd cheered when authorities announced Friday’s event was canceled.

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Trudeau noted that he had never seen such anger and intensity during the election campaign, even remembering going with his father to the West where former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was vilified.

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He said the current unrest and anger among part of the population should be greeted with compassion, but added that science has indicated that vaccinations are the best way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to be strong for what we know to be true. Science is going to help us get through this, that will be the way forward, ”Trudeau said. “But we have to make sure that we hear these real concerns and address them as best we can. “

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has said Canada is a country where people can express their views, but must do so peacefully.

“No one deserves to be the victim of harassment and obscenity,” he said in a tweet on Friday.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted that everyone deserves to be safe during the election campaign.

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“I am very sorry to hear that this happened tonight to Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal team and I hope everyone is doing well,” he wrote.

It was an uncomfortable end to the second week of the campaign where health issues dominated the debate for the day. The Liberals have underscored the importance of the COVID-19 vaccination, the Conservatives have pledged to improve benefits for critically ill workers, and the NDP introduced a prescription for universal pharmacare.

Protesters respond to the cancellation of a campaign event for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in Bolton, Ont., August 27, 2021.
Protesters respond to the cancellation of a campaign event for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in Bolton, Ont., August 27, 2021. Photo by Carlos Osorio / Reuters

During a layover in Mississauga, Ont., Trudeau said a re-elected Liberal government would purchase enough vaccines to ensure all Canadians have access to free COVID-19 booster shots and all needed second-generation vaccines.

Trudeau also pledged a $ 1 billion fund to help provinces and territories that introduce a proof of vaccination requirement for non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and gyms, as well as public spaces.

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“A vaccination warrant for non-essential businesses is a good idea,” Trudeau said during his appearance at a restaurant.

However, Trudeau did not provide a straightforward response when asked if he had special permission for more than the provincial limit of 25 people to crowd into the restaurant for his announcement.

British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec are pushing ahead with so-called vaccine passports, and Trudeau said he hoped Doug Ford would follow suit, saying it was time for the Progressive Conservative premier to Ontario listens to public health officials.

The Canadian Press learned later on Friday that Ontario was planning to introduce a vaccination certificate system next week, a reversal from Ford’s early claims that such a system would “divide society.”

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Visiting Thunder Bay, Ontario, Singh called on the federal government to issue a national certificate of vaccination.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to have one central document that we get from the federal government and that we can use in any province we go to? Singh said. “It would just make life easier. “

In Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday, O’Toole said he would increase EI benefits for sick workers from 26 weeks to 52 weeks, a move that could help people fight deadly diseases like cancer.

“Canadian workers should know that we support them if they become seriously ill,” said O’Toole.

“I’m sure we’ve all known someone, a friend, a relative who has battled cancer. We all know how devastating it is. So we can all imagine if, on top of all that, you also had to worry that your EI benefits would run out and you might not be able to put food on the table for your family.

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Singh on Friday pledged to immediately begin working with the provinces to deliver a single-payer public pharmacare program for all Canadians.

New Democrats say millions of people cannot afford the drugs they need and have to skip doses, cut their pills in half, or even go without.

“We know it doesn’t have to be that way,” Singh said. “We know we can really work together to solve this problem. “

Until the bitter end of Election 44, the National Post is running a special daily edition of First Reading, our political newsletter, to keep you up to date with the ins and outs of the campaign. All curated by Tristin Hopper of the National Post and published Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 9 a.m. Sign up here.

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