Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was forced to cancel plans to attend a fundraising dinner on Tuesday evening after two speakers at the event said protesters hurled racial slurs at the mostly South Asian attendees entering a convention centre in Surrey, B.C.
Trudeau did not enter the building and spoke to a crowd for about three minutes by Zoom instead of making a speech in person.
He said no one should be intimidated or stopped from exercising their democratic freedoms “because that’s what this country is all about.”
Trudeau said he would return to see his supporters in Surrey in the future, and an organizer of the event told attendees they should feel free to stay and enjoy dinner.
Defence Minister Anita Anand addressed the crowd, but a Liberal Party staffer asked a reporter to leave the room.
The party said in a statement to The Canadian Press that everyone participating “in our democracy should feel safe and respected.”
About four dozen protesters used expletives as they chanted against Trudeau and honked horns outside the convention centre.
“We don’t like the way he’s running Canada,” one man said as another spoke through a megaphone.
About half a dozen RCMP officers stood by watching the crowd.
Earlier this month, police began investigating after a video circulated on social media showed people hurling verbal abuse at NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during a protest in Peterborough, Ont.
The federal NDP leader had dropped by the campaign office for an Ontario NDP candidate running in the provincial election.
A video shows Singh encountering protesters as he left the campaign office, and they can be heard shouting expletives at him and calling him a “traitor’” as he gets inside a vehicle.
Singh later told reporters he found the experience “intense, threatening (and) insulting’” but that he is more worried about what it means for politics in general.
—The Canadian Press