TORONTO — A town hall with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland held by the National Council of Canadian Muslims was cut short Sunday after protesters calling her a “war monger” repeatedly interrupted the event in Toronto.
Protesters held up signs raising issues such as Venezuelan independence while another at one point held up a sign that read: “Save Yemeni Children.”
“If you’re for democracy, why do you condone the sale of weapons of mass destruction to Saudi Arabia,” said one unidentified man. “Why are you waging economic war against the people of Venezuela who have done no harm to Canada? Why are you a war monger?”
After several interruptions, organizers stopped the event titled “What’s at stake this federal election” held at the University of Toronto.
The town hall came days after the prime minister’s re-election bid was hit by controversy, after images emerged of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s past dressing in brown- or blackface as part of costume events.
No direct questions were posed about the images, but in her opening remarks Freeland reiterated her comments from Friday that “racism and intolerance are unacceptable, always and in all forms” and she was “disappointed” when she saw the images.
Freeland said that she accepts Trudeau’s apology, which she believes is “sincere,” but on Sunday told the town hall that its not for her to choose whether or not to accept it or forgive the prime minister.
“He needed to apologize, and he has, to the people who have been really hurt by seeing those images,” the foreign affairs minister told the several dozen people who attended the event.
“And it’s up to those people to make their own judgements about that.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2019.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story had a sub headline that incorrectly stated members of the National Council of Canadian Muslims interrupted the minister. In fact, they were protesters who did not belong to the organization.