Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau slammed the “Freedom Convoy” trucking protest against a vaccine mandate as spewing “hateful rhetoric,” while speaking substantively of the Black Lives Matter protests.
“I have attended protests and rallies in the past. When I agreed with the goals, when I supported the people expressing their concerns and their issues, Black Lives Matter is an excellent example of that,” Trudeau said Monday at a virtual news conference.
“But I have also chosen to not go anywhere near protests that have expressed hateful rhetoric, violence toward fellow citizens. And a disrespect, not just of science, but of the frontline health workers and quite frankly, the 90% of truckers who have been doing the right thing to keep Canadians safe, to put food on our tables. Canadians know where I stand. This is a moment for responsible leaders to think carefully about where they stand and who they stand with,” he continued.
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The protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, according to local news reports and videos of the scenes out of Ottawa.
Police in Ottawa, however, said they are investigating possible criminal charges after protesters allegedly urinated on the National War Memorial, danced on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and used the statue of Canadian athlete Terry Fox to display a sign reading, “Mandate Freedom. “
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Trudeau added in his comments that, “Nazi symbolism, racist imagery and desecration of war memorials” is “an insult to memory and truth.”
Trudeau slammed the convoy last week as being composed of a “small fringe minority” of people who hold “unacceptable views.”
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“What we are hearing from some people associated with this convoy is completely unacceptable,” he added at the time.
He was subsequently mocked on Twitter, including by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, for the comments after the protest resulted in thousands of people taking to the streets.
“It would appear that the so-called ‘fringe minority’ is actually the government,” Musk tweeted on Sunday afternoon.
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“If the government had the mandate of the people, there would be a significant counter-protest. There is not, therefore they do not,” Musk said in a follow-up tweet.
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Trudeau and his family were moved to a secret location in the capital over alleged security risks, sources told the CBC over the weekend. The prime minister announced on Monday that he tested positive for the coronavirus, but was “feeling fine” and will “continue to work remotely this week.”