Trudeau, cabinet chased by protesters at retreat in Hamilton
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers met in Hamilton this week to plan a path forward for the new parliamentary session that begins next week – and they were chased by protesters at almost every turn.
A small but noisy group of about 20 protesters has lined up outside Trudeau’s hotel and retreat site. The protesters have used techniques similar to those used by the protest convoy that converged in Ottawa a year ago.
The Hamilton mob has been shouting at the prime minister at all hours of the day – taunting him with chants of “tyrant” and “traitor” and cries of “f*** Trudeau”, while carrying flags and placards bearing the same messages.
A protester carried a flag reading “We love the marginal” – a reference to Trudeau’s earlier comment that anti-vaccination elements in Canada are a “marginal minority”.
They also honked in the early morning hours.
Some protesters have draped themselves in the Canadian flag, a fashion choice followed last year by some protesters against the vaccine mandate on Parliament Hill.
The protesters strongly oppose the Prime Minister’s handling of the COVID-19 health crisis and his policy of vaccine mandates for travelers and some border workers – policies that were scrapped last year as part of an effort to return to pre-pandemic life .
The demonstrators also carried placards denouncing the World Economic Forum (WEF), a non-governmental organization that organizes discussions between world and business leaders at an annual summit in Davos, Switzerland.
The WEF has been at the center of many COVID-related conspiracy theories as some of its leaders spoke in 2020 of a “great reset” after the health crisis – a chance to evaluate how the global economy is structured after grappling with such a devastating pandemic.
On Tuesday evening, as Trudeau and his cabinet crossed the street to a local restaurant for dinner, a crowd gathered – prompting RCMP protection to close ranks and shoved him into the hotel through a side entrance to meet some angry evade elements of the crowd.
The protesters banged on the windows of the Bread Bar restaurant, a move that upset some cabinet ministers, sources said.
WATCH: Crowd gathers to protest Trudeau’s policies during cabinet retreat in Hamilton
Some cabinet ministers also shielded their colleagues from the protesters as they surrounded Trudeau and his entourage on their way back to the conference complex, sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Bread Bar protesters also wore an inflatable sheep wearing a face mask, with a sign reading “99.8 percent survival rate” – a reference to COVID-19.
On Monday night, the protesters launched fireworks at the hotel building — pelting the windows of the mezzanine bar — causing the significant security presence gathered at the hotel to lower the blinds and discreetly remove Trudeau from the windows.
The fireworks were back on Tuesday night when protesters aimed their firepower at the windows of the 301-room Sheraton Hamilton Hotel. Trudeau was not in the room when the fireworks bounced off the building.
There are local police and RCMP agents stationed at all entrances to and from the hotel conference center complex. They have denied access to space to a number of people believed to be part of the demonstrations.
About half a dozen protesters attended the city’s McMaster Automotive Resource Center as Trudeau toured the facility and spoke to reporters about an upcoming federal-provincial summit on health care funding.
“F*** you, Trudeau,” one of them yelled as police held off protesters, and as Trudeau and his ministers got into their car to head back to the conference center.
In a statement to CBC News, Hamilton police said no arrests have been made in connection with the cabinet withdrawal protests.
Police said they were prepared for Tuesday’s demonstrations outside the Sheraton Hotel and Bread Bar restaurant and “proactively” closed some streets in the city center to “enable a peaceful demonstration and to promote the orderly movement of vehicles and pedestrians through the city”. .”
“Hamilton Police continue to recognize the fundamental rights of individuals to demonstrate peacefully, as enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” the police said.
“Our goal is to keep the peace and maintain a safe environment for everyone.”
Asked about the security situation at the retreat’s closing press conference Wednesday, Trudeau said he doesn’t think the protesters represent the people of Hamilton.
“Let me say that the welcome I’ve received here in Hamilton has been extraordinary. The people I’ve met, the students here, the people and teams I’ve met in different places during our few days here have been attentive and open and warm,” Trudeau said.
“And a handful of angry people don’t define what Hamilton is or what democracy is.”
WATCH: Trudeau reacts to being overrun by protesters in Hamilton
Trudeau said it is “very important” for people to “express their displeasure, displeasure or even anger at various governments.”
“Our police forces and institutions will ensure that those protests remain peaceful and law-abiding,” he added. “That’s something that really matters. We will always make sure that people are free to express their opinion.
“But I want to make sure everyone understands that a handful of people don’t represent Hamiltonians.”