Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has canceled plans to attend a Liberal Party fundraising dinner in Surrey on Tuesday night due to security concerns over a large gathering of protesters outside the event.
Protesters allegedly harassed and hurled racial slurs at attendees and volunteers, many of whom were South Asian, according to Surrey Center MP Randeep Sarai.
The fundraiser was held at the Aria Banquet Hall.
Sarai says a group of protesters were stationed outside the gates of the event, eventually reaching around 100 people.
“They just started swearing, yelling, yelling at everyone who came through,” Sarai said.
“We had a lot of South Asian volunteers…who were harassed, called names, called napkin heads, rag heads, you’re all immigrants.”
He says it’s unclear what the group was actually protesting.
Surrey RCMP confirmed in a statement that there were several vehicles and larger trucks towing trailers that were traveling “in a convoy style loop around the roadway”.
“Due to the size and composition of the protest group and for the safety of everyone present, it has been decided that it is not safe for the Prime Minister to attend the scene,” said the cap. Vanessa Munn.
Trudeau did not enter the building and addressed a crowd for about three minutes via Zoom instead of giving a speech in person. Trudeau said he would return to see his supporters in Surrey in the future.
WATCH | Justin Trudeau talks about unruly crowds and their impact on free speech:
At an event in Saskatoon on Wednesday, Trudeau spoke about what happened at the fundraiser in Surrey, adding that no one should be intimidated for supporting a political party.
“The safety of Canadians who choose to make their voices heard in politics should never be in question as it was last night,” he said.
“The fundamental freedoms that we enjoy as a country, and that we enjoy as Canadians, must be defended, must be protected.”
The demonstrators insulted the Prime Minister
Protesters used swear words while chanting against Trudeau and honking their horns outside the convention center. About half a dozen RCMP officers stood there watching the crowd.
Sarai says the protesters turned the event into a hostile environment.
“It doesn’t reflect Surrey at all,” he said.
“Surrey is a very diverse city, a very friendly city, a very welcoming city.”
And while he respects the public’s right to protest, he says ‘you should never spit hate and use the vulgarity that was used in it’.
Protests against party leaders
Earlier this month, police began investigating after video released on social media showed people insulting NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during a protest in Peterborough, Ont.
The leader of the federal NDP had gone to the campaign office of an Ontario NDP candidate who was running in the provincial election.
Video shows Singh encountering protesters as he leaves the campaign office, and they can be heard shouting profanities 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.