WARNING: This story contains language that may be offensive to some readers. Discretion is advised.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Monday appeared to taunt angry protesters who attempted to drown out a planned interview in British Columbia, by asking them if there was “a hospital you should be going to bother right now?”
Trudeau was preparing to sit down with Global BC’s Neetu Garcha outside the broadcaster’s Burnaby, B.C., station as he continues his election campaign, but protesters blared loud music and shouted obscenities from across the parking lot.
At one point, while the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” played through loudspeakers on a cart, one protester called Trudeau a communist and made derogatory comments about Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau.
“Where’s your wife? I heard she’s a whore,” the protestor yelled.
“Where’s she at? Smell (inaudible) from here.”
Trudeau listened for a moment, then pulled down his mask and raised his voice to make sure the protestor heard him.
“Isn’t there a hospital you should be going to bother right now?” Trudeau fired back.
The protester then urged Trudeau to get closer, appearing to challenge the Liberal leader to a fight.
The interview was later moved inside after discussions between Trudeau and his staff, Global News staff and the RCMP.
Trudeau was referring to the widespread protests against government COVID-19 measures, including vaccine passports, that took place at hospitals across the country on Monday.
Some of the protests saw patients and healthcare workers having to be escorted into the hospitals by police due to safety concerns.
Earlier on Monday, Trudeau vowed to criminalize the blocking of hospitals and other health-care facilities by protesters if his party is re-elected to form government.
“It’s not right that the people tasked with keeping us safe and alive during this pandemic should be exposed to hatred, violence, fear and intimidation,” said Trudeau during a campaign stop in Vancouver.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also condemned Monday’s protests. Singh has previously promised similar protections for healthcare workers and to criminalize blocking access to health care.
The protests — which follow similar rallies at hospitals in recent weeks, oppose public health policies that are being implemented by provincial political leaders, but are instead targeting the doctors and nurses who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of those workers called the protests a “morale blow” after more than a year trying to save lives.
Trudeau has been dogged by protesters throughout the campaign, at one point cancelling an event due to safety concerns and postponing others. Last week, he was pelted with gravel by a protester who was later criminally charged.
The Liberal leader has come out increasingly forcefully against the protests, calling them “anti-vaxxer mobs” that he says won’t influence his policies.
O’Toole, Singh and other party leaders have condemned those protesters as well.
— with files from Amanda Connolly and Rachel Gilmore