Canada elections: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hit by stones on campaign trail

Protesters attacked Justin Trudeau on Monday by throwing gravel at him during a pre-poll rally in London, Ontario ahead of the September 20 elections. He was unhurt
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gestures during the Canada elections campaign trail in Brantford, Ontario on September 6, 2021. He was later hit by stones at a rally in London, Ontario ahead of the September 20 elections. (REUTERS)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gestures during the Canada elections campaign trail in Brantford, Ontario on September 6, 2021. He was later hit by stones at a rally in London, Ontario ahead of the September 20 elections. (REUTERS)
Published on Sep 07, 2021 03:40 PM IST
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was hit by gravel thrown at him by angry protesters during an election campaign stop in the town of London in Ontario on Monday. No injuries were reported.

The incident occurred as Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party, was preparing to board his campaign bus. Journalists accompanying the PM reported that some of them were also hit by small stones.

Justin Trudeau has been campaigning across the country for the September 20 snap polls, which he had called in mid-August in a bid to transform his existing minority government into a majority one.

The Canadian prime minister later made light of the incident, telling reporters on his campaign plane, “There were little bits of gravel and I may have been hit. I had someone throw pumpkin seeds at me a few years ago.”

It was the first incident of violence on the campaign trail. Trudeau has faced protests at several stops due to anger over mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations that are part of the ruling party’s agenda ahead of the Canada elections.

While vaccinations have been announced for public service, with some resistance coming from unions, he has sought to make them mandatory for those seeking to travel domestically on planes and trains.

Trudeau also faced similar noisy protests in Surrey in British Columbia, while a campaign event in the town of Bolton in Ontario was cancelled last month after a large number of protesters showed up. However, previous incidents have been restricted to only hurling abuses at the PM.

Earlier on Monday, Justin Trudeau said he will “not allow” such “anti-vaxxer mobs” to “dictate how this country gets through this pandemic”.

The incident in Ontario’s London immediately drew criticism from Trudeau’s principal rival, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole, who tweeted, “This is disgusting and I condemn these actions in the strongest terms possible. Political violence is never justified and our media must be free from intimidation, harassment and violence.”

Trudeau is not the only leader to have faced an attack during his campaign. Earlier this month, People’s Party of Canada (PPC) leader Maxime Bernier was hit with an egg at an event in Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan.

The news agency Canadian Press reported that the crowd at the London event included several wearing PPC gear and quoted a local candidate as saying they had been building a network to mobilise at Trudeau’s campaign stops.

There were no reports of arrests after the episode nor were any perpetrators identified.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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