Justin Trudeau food homeless Ottawa protesters abuse small business workers racist flags Ottawa protest

Justin Trudeau: We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags, steal food from the homeless

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the worst elements of the Ottawa protest in a press conference today.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement today about the more egregious incidents that took place at this weekend’s protest in Ottawa. Trudeau — who held a noon press conference at an unknown location outside of Ottawa, where his family was moved due to security concerns around the weekend’s protest — referred to the desecration of the war memorial and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the defacing of the Terry Fox statue, the harassment of business owners by maskless protesters inside the Rideau Mall and elsewhere, the theft of food from a soup kitchen for the homeless and the brandishing of Nazi and Confederate flags along with other hate symbols.

Quoting retired Canadian MP and cabinet minister Irwin Cotler’s earlier statement about the events in Ottawa, Trudeau said that freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the right to protest are cornerstones of democracy, but desecration of memorials and statues and displaying hateful imagery are not.

“Hate can never be the answer. Over the past few days, Canadians were shocked and frankly disgusted by the behaviour displayed by some people protesting in our nation’s capital. I want to be very clear: We are not intimidated by those who hurl insults and abuse at small business workers and steal food from the homeless. We won’t give in to those who fly racist flags. We won’t cave to those who engage in vandalism or dishonour the memory of our veterans.

“I want to thank the many Canadians for their donations to the Shepherds of Good Hope and the Terry Fox Foundation in response to what they saw this weekend. There is no place in our country for threats, violence or hatred. So to those responsible for this behaviour: It needs to stop. For anyone who joined to the convoy but is rightly uncomfortable with symbols of hatred and division on display: Join with your fellow Canadians, be courageous and speak out. Do not stand for or with intolerance and hate.”

Trudeau also called on other politicians to stand together in denouncing the hate and disrespect on display at the Ottawa protest, and to join in support of science and facts in dealing with the pandemic. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has been vocal about the trucker convoy and Ottawa protest, particularly its more alt-right, xenophobic elements, and today called on those still occupying Ottawa to leave. In today’s press conference, Trudeau called out Conservative leader Erin O’Toole by name, and mentioned People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier as someone who is taking advantage of misguided, ill-informed Canadians.

“To the politicians exploiting people’s fears: I ask you to think long and hard about the consequences of your actions.

“To the nearly 90% of truckers across the country who’ve gotten vaccinated and who continue working hard to keep us fed and keep our economy moving: Thank you.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned the worst elements of the Ottawa protest.

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