A quiet residential street quickly turned into a chaotic scene Wednesday morning, with some people screaming obscenities as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and South Surrey-White Rock candidate Gordie Hogg made a campaign stop in South Surrey.
Trudeau and Hogg, a former mayor, MLA, and MP for the White Rock area, visited a home near 17 Avenue and 143 Street as part of campaign announcement about housing.
It was Trudeau’s third visit to the Semiahmoo Peninsula since he was first elected prime minister in 2015. The first two times he visited, both in 2017, he was greeted by a cheering crowd of some 1,000 people asking for autographs and taking pictures.
This time, however, the reception wasn’t as friendly.
While Trudeau was speaking to media in the backyard of the home, a group of protesters gathered out front, screaming obscenities and anti-vaccine rhetoric, along with widely debunked conspiracy theories, such as suggesting Fidel Castro is Trudeau’s father.
While a small group of people appeared to be there to support Trudeau, they were outshouted by the protesters.
Media who have been travelling with Trudeau said it’s become a common occurrence at campaign stops. One cameraman said that a group of hecklers appears to be following the campaign across the country.
The video below contains offensive language
video sideways but it was not a smooth exit for trudeau pic.twitter.com/cOjpFg3zkY
— Aaron Hinks (@aaron_hinks) August 25, 2021
Trudeau paid little attention to the protesters, however, as he announced that his party would increase the corporate income tax for Canada’s largest and most profitable banks and insurance companies by three per cent on all earnings over $1 billion.
Trudeau said he will also establish a Canada recovery dividend so that major financial institutions contribute more over the next four years of Canada’s recovery.
“As we rebuild, we’re going to ask big financial institutions to pay a little back, to pay a little more, so that we can do more for you. In particular, so we can help you own your home and own your future,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau also highlighted the Liberals’ other housing-related promises, including helping people afford a down-payment faster with a new tax-free first-home savings account; launch a new rent-to-own program; crack down on “predatory” speculators and foreign buyers competing with families; eliminate “blind-bidding;” and work with municipalities to get more homes built and renovated.
During a question-and-answer session, it was pointed out to Trudeau that some pension plans are heavily invested in banks and insurance companies. Asked if going after banks would take profits away from retirees, Trudeau repeated that banks and insurance companies have made a lot of money during the pandemic.
Trudeau was also asked about the $4.15 billion George Massey Tunnel replacement project.
The eight-lane toll free tunnel replacement, announced by the provincial government this month, is expected to be complete in 2030. During the project announcement, provincial Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said he “certainly hopes” the federal government will contribute to the project.
Trudeau, however, said he hasn’t made a decision on whether to help fund the project.
After Wednesday’s event, Trudeau walked through the crowd of protesters and around the block to a waiting vehicle. Heavily protected by RCMP, Trudeau was bombarded with insults and obscenities on the 30-second walk.
Asked about the out-of-town hecklers, who seemed to find joy in their attempts to intimidate the former prime minister, Hogg supported their right to protest.
“One of the great things about our country is you can believe what you want to believe and you can think what you want to think. In most cases, you can say what you want to say but you can’t do whatever you want to do,” Hogg said.
“There’s that delicate balance that exists in one of the freest countries in the world. People being able to say what they believe is something we will honour. However, when you’re doing that to the detriment of other people, then it becomes a problem.”
Locally, Hogg is facing incumbent Conservative Kerry-Lynne Findlay and NDP candidate June Liu for the South Surrey-White Rock riding.
Canadians go to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20.