SUDBURY, Ont. — Liberal leader Justin Trudeau said anti-vaccine protesters that have disrupted some of his Ontario campaign events ought to be condemned and that his chief opponent, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, had not done enough to “correct” those protestors.
It was Trudeau’s strongest language yet since one group of protesters forced the party to cancel an event last Friday in Bolton, Ont.
The Bolton protest was followed by a similar one Sunday morning in Cambridge, Ont. and each featured loud, foul-mouthed militants that tried to shout down Trudeau. A smaller group of about 30 — but just as loud and just as obscene — showed up at an unannounced campaign event here Tuesday afternoon.
But while Trudeau’s response to Bolton and Cambridge was almost conciliatory in recognizing that the pandemic had provoked frustration and anger among many Canadians, he showed none of that sympathy to those who tried unsuccesfully to disrupt his Sudbury protest.
And he called out O’Toole.
“Erin O’Toole is siding with them instead of with Canadians who did their part and stepped up,” Trudeau told a crowd of about 80 partisans who had gathered on an outdoor terrace at the University of Sudbury. “[O’Toole]’s talking about personal choice. What about my choice to keep my kids safe? What about our choices to make sure we’re getting through this pandemic as quickly as we can? That’s the choice we’ve all made.”
O’Toole, in fact, did condemn the violence and obscenities of last week’s protestors
” I strongly condemn any form of harassment and protest the like we’ve seen,” O’Toole said in Fredericton Saturday. “We should be having a healthy and respectful debate of ideas. And we have no time for people that bring in negativity to campaigning.”
Trudeau’s tone appeared to have change after taking his son Hadrien to his first day of school. Trudeau referred at two separate campaign events Tuesday, including the one in Sudbury, about being worried as a parent that his child might be attending a school where someone might not be vaccinated.
But Trudeau’s different approach to the anti-vaxxers on Tuesday follows the release of several polls which show his party is now in second place behind the O’Toole Conservatives and in danger of losing government.
“I am not going to back down, no matter how many of them show up to try and shout us down,” Trudeau said angrily to cheers from his partisans. “So shame on you, Erin O’Toole. You need to condemn those people. You need to correct them. You need to use your voice and actually add it to those of us who understand that vaccinations are the way through this pandemic. And listen to the almost 80 per cent of Canadians who know that too.”
None of the protestors at Tuesday’s event displayed any party signs or symbols and none chanted any political symbols.
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