Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was targeted by protesters throwing what appears to be handfuls of gravel — small stones — during the latest demonstration the Liberal Party leader has faced on the campaign trail.
Mr Trudeau was attending a campaign event in London, Ontario, on Monday when he and his entourage were confronted by yet another protest that saw some in the crowd throw rocks or gravel at him as he attempted to get on his campaign bus.
According to a report from Canadian public broadcaster CBC, which identified the projectiles as gravel, Mr Trudeau spoke about the incident a short time later, saying that he had not been injured.
The incident is the first time since the start of the Canadian election campaign that protesters have attempted to physically assault the Liberal leader. But Trudeau has been followed by protests across the country during the campaign, some of which have led to the cancellation of election events over alleged safety concerns.
Opposition party leaders were quick to condemn the attempted assault on Trudeau, with Conservative Party (CPC) leader Erin O’Toole stating: “Political violence is never justified and our media must be free from intimidation, harassment, and violence.”
Many protests have been linked to those opposing coronavirus vaccine mandates and vaccine passport programmes, including a Liberal policy to ban unvaccinated people from air and train travel.
Trudeau commented on the protesters on Monday, saying: “Yes, there is a small fringe element in this country that is angry, that doesn’t believe in science, that is lashing out with racist, misogynistic attacks.”
“But Canadians, the vast majority of Canadians, are not represented by them, and I know will not allow those voices, those special interest groups, those protesters — I don’t even want to call them protesters, those anti-vaxxer mobs — to dictate how this country gets through this pandemic,” he added.
Maxime Bernier, the leader of the populist People’s Party of Canada (PPC) and the only major party leader against vaccine passports in the campaign, also condemned the attack on Trudeau in London, saying: “Some idiot threw pebbles at Mr Trudeau yesterday. I condemn it. Words are our weapons. But physical violence is ALWAYS wrong.”
Bernier also pointed out that no other political leaders had condemned an assault on him last week by a man who broke an egg over his head during a campaign stop. The populist criticised Trudeau and far-left New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh over their ambivalence towards certain kinds of political violence in the past.
“Leftists always had a soft spot for violence. Trudeau and Singh praised a communist mass murderer and they’re fine with that,” Bernier said, referencing both Singh’s and Trudeau’s prior praise for former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
“But when we push back against the systematic attack on our rights and freedoms by this leftist psychopath, they say WE are dangerous??!” Bernier added.
Canadians are scheduled to take to the polls on September 20th, and so far, polls are showing it is unlikely Trudeau will win a majority of seats in the House of Commons and may even lose to the Conservative Party.