Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has slammed a mob of anti-vaxxers after they heckled and pelted him with gravel while on the campaign trail in Ontario on Monday.
He branded the violence ‘completely unacceptable’ and said ‘this is not who were are as a country’.
Trudeau skirted suggestions the attack constituted assault but said it was ‘unacceptable for people to be throwing things and endangering others at a political rally’.
Footage posted online showed Trudeau looking startled as anti-vaxx demonstrators surrounded and threw gravel at him as he boarded his campaign bus after leaving a small brewery in Brantford on Monday.
Anti-vaxx hecklers have shouted abuse and even death threats at Trudeau throughout his campaign ahead of the September 20 election.
He slammed the ‘mobs’ today, saying they do not respect ‘the basic science and the basic decency that Canadians have rightly come to expect from each other.’
He went on to defend people ‘who continue to do the right thing’ by getting vaccinated and wearing masks.
‘Nobody should be doing their jobs under the threat of violence or acts that put them in danger’, he added.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has slammed a mob of anti-vaxxers after they heckled and pelted him with gravel while on the campaign trail in Ontario on Monday
Footage showed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being pelted with gravel as he tried to board his campaign bus in Ontario on Monday
Trudeau looked startled as he was attacked by a crowd of anti-vaxx protesters on Monday but later confirmed he was hit, but not injured, in the incident
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was pelted with gravel by anti-vaxxers as they surrounded and heckled him while on the campaign trail in Ontario on Monday
Trudeau went on: ‘It’s not just at political rallies that this has happened. There are healthcare workers across the country who are getting hassled and intimidated, bullied, as they are going into work to keep people safe and alive.
‘Store clerks, waitresses, people going about their daily lives, getting yelled and pushed around for wearing masks, for being vaccinated. That’s not how we do things in Canada…
‘This is not who we are as a country and I will continue to stand up to defend journalists, police officer, healthcare workers, anyone in this country who has done the right thing – got themselves vaccinated, wants to get back to normal. Nobody should be getting that kind of intimidation or endangerment.’
Footage posted online showed Trudeau trying to get on a bus while surrounded by an angry crowd of anti-vaxxers and protesters were later seen blocking the vehicle’s path.
Demonstrators were also seen holding signs reading ‘F*** Trudeau’ and flags graffitied with the words ‘no vaxx pass’.
He was later filmed brushing off Monday’s incident, telling a reporter who asked if he was hit with the gravel: ‘Does it matter?’. He confirmed he was hit but was unhurt in the attack, comparing the incident to having pumpkin seeds thrown at him.
It comes as Trudeau is trailing behind Conservative leader Erin O’Toole in opinion polls ahead of this month’s election.
O’Toole condemned the gravel-throwing, branding the incident, which saw two reporters travelling on the media bus get stuck in the crowd, ‘disgusting’ on Twitter.
‘Political violence is never justified and our media must be free from intimidation, harassment, and violence.’
Anti-vaxx hecklers (pictured, in Brantford, Ontario, on Monday) have shouted abuse and even death threats at Trudeau throughout his campaign ahead of the September 20 election
Demonstrators were also seen holding signs reading ‘F*** Trudeau’ and flags graffitied with the words ‘no vaxx pass’
Trudeau visited a small brewery in Brantford, Ontario, while campaigning for re-election on Monday
Trudeau greets a factory worker while on the campaign trail in Ontario on Monday ahead of the September 20 election
It comes as Covid-19 cases in Canada continued to rise over the weekend even as Trudeau prepares the country to reopens its borders to vaccinated travelers.
The country’s top public health official has spoken out against the reopening, warning a fourth wave may be on the horizon unless more people get vaccinated.
To date, over 76 per cent of Canadians over 12 years old have received two jabs, with more than 83 per cent partially vaccinated.
Trudeau’s administration has pursued a vaccine policy that has proved divisive – making jabs compulsory for public servants as well as Canadians travelling by air, train, and ship.
The prime minister has warned of ‘consequences’ for those who fail to follow the mandate without a ‘legitimate medical reason’, but offered little in the way of enforcement.
It comes only months after Trudeau spoke out against vaccine mandates, telling reporters in March he though compulsory jabs were ‘fraught with challenges’.
‘I think the indications that the vast majority of Canadians are looking to get vaccinated will get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country’, he said at the time.
But his statement was then contrary to a memo posted on the government website which stated Trudeau would consider daily testing and screening for those who refuse vaccination.
The memo was later removed because it was ‘inaccurate’, according to the civil service.
But opposition leader O’Toole has accused Trudeau of playing politics with the pandemic and has come out in support of daily testing, rather and mandatory vaccination, for Canadians.
To date, over 76 per cent of Canadians over 12 years old have received two jabs, with more than 83 per cent partially vaccinated
Trudeau has lashed back in a war of words with his main rival, accusing O’Toole of waffling on gun control and vaccine mandates as the campaign enters its final stretch.
O’Toole on Sunday scrapped a campaign promise to eliminate a ban on some assault weapons, a sensitive issue in Canada after mass shootings in recent years.
Trudeau sought to capitalize on his opponent’s shift with just two weeks left to reverse his fortunes.
O’Toole ‘will say anything to try and get elected,’ Trudeau told supporters at a campaign event in southern Ontario, Canada’s most-populous province. ‘That’s not leadership. That’s not integrity.’
After being criticized by O’Toole for calling the election two years early during a rising fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trudeau assailed his rival’s opposition to vaccine mandates, including for his own candidates.
Trudeau said O’Toole was pandering to anti-vaxxers just as he had to the gun lobby.
‘Erin O’Toole is at least taking some of his cues from (the anti-vax crowd),’ Trudeau said.
‘Canadians are beginning to see that that’s the future being offered by Erin O’Toole, a future of wishy-washy, weak leadership where he doesn’t stand up for what he believes in, doesn’t tell Canadians what he actually believes,’ he said.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole on Sunday scrapped a campaign promise to eliminate a ban on some assault weapons, a sensitive issue in Canada after mass shootings in recent years
Speaking in Ottawa, O’Toole refused to say how many of his candidates had not been inoculated. He has said those who are not vaccinated must be tested daily.
‘Our approach, with respect to vaccinations, is we try and encourage and inform and work with people, but we will respect their personal health decisions,’ O’Toole said.
Liberal strategists have said the crucial period of the campaign starts after Labor Day, because Canadians have been more focused until now on their summer vacations than the election.
There are two debates this week, one in French and one in English, the only occasions left in which all the candidates will face one another on national television ahead of the vote.
A rolling Nanos Research survey of 1,200 people for CTV on Sunday put the Conservatives at 34.9 per cent, with the Liberals at 33.4 per cent, and the left-leaning New Democrats at 18.9 per cent.
A day earlier, Nanos had the Conservatives at 35.5 per cent and the Liberals at 33 per cent.