09/10/2014 11:31 EDT | Updated 11/10/2014 05:59 EST

Justin Trudeau Catholic school event decried by anti-abortion protesters

Anti-abortion activists protested Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's appearance at a French Catholic school in Cambridge, Ont., Wednesday, saying his views on abortion run counter to Catholic values.

"The fact that Trudeau’s meet and greet is held in a Catholic school is a slap in the face to all those Liberals who uphold Catholic teaching on abortion and who have been excluded from running for political office within the Liberal party," President of Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) Jim Hughes said earlier Wednesday in an emailed statement.

Trudeau did not directly address the criticisms of the choice of venue when asked.

"The Liberal party is unequivocal when it comes to protecting women's rights. We are the party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And we will not fight to take away rights that women have fought for over the past decades," he said after addressing students at the University of Waterloo.

"It's that simple. I respect people's personal views, respect the ability of MPs and even Liberal MPs to hold those personal views. But they don't get to vote to take away women's rights."

Trudeau has said that Liberal MPs would be expected to vote along pro-choice lines on any legislation regarding abortion.

After the student event, Trudeau met with community members at École secondaire catholique Père-René-de-Galinée in Cambridge.

School board says it wasn't involved

Meanwhile, protesters stood outside in the pouring rain holding placards displaying anti-abortion slogans and graphic images of aborted fetuses. 

"We're here to expose the injustice of abortion to let Justin's voters and supporters know what he stands for," said Alissa Golob, the Campaign Life Coalition's youth co-ordinator.

"Everyone knows that the Catholic church is pro-life. In order to be a Catholic, you have to have those pro-life convictions. So why he would be allowed to have any type of event – let alone support from a Catholic institution – is beyond me." 

Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud spokeswoman Mikale-Andrée Joly said neither the school nor the board were involved in the event. The school is used a community meeting spot and the Liberals, who paid for the use of the venue, were using it as any other community group would use it, she said.

The school did not promote the event and there were no students present, she said.

Trudeau continues his tour of southwestern Ontario with a stop in London Thursday.