Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks through a construction area before participating in a ground breaking ceremony for an Amazon distribution centre in Ottawa, Monday August 20, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

Trudeau says he won’t apologize to heckler, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

Prime Minister had accused woman of racism as she shouted about illegal immigration at Quebec rally

Hate speech and the politics of division are creating a “dangerous path” for Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday as he vowed to steer clear of such roads and to continue calling out those who rely on “extremist” methods to make their voices heard.

Trudeau made the comments when asked whether he went too far in accusing a Quebec woman of racism and intolerance as she heckled him last week during a rally in Quebec.

During a campaign-style rally Thursday southeast of Montreal, the woman shouted questions in French at Trudeau, asking him when the federal government would repay Quebec for costs it has incurred as a result of an influx of “illegal immigrants” coming over the Canada-U.S. border.

The Quebec government has demanded Ottawa pay the full costs of social services provided to so-called irregular migrants who have crossed into Canada between established border crossings over the past couple of years — costs the province says have reached $146 million so far.

The prime minister responded to the woman by accusing her of intolerance and racism and saying her sentiments were not welcome.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for a new Amazon distribution warehouse east of Ottawa, Trudeau said he fears a rise in extreme populism, particularly surrounding immigration issues, with some feeding fear and intolerance using partial truths and “outright lies.”

“There has been a polarization in our political discourse,” Trudeau said as construction machinery clattered in the background.

“And there are people who are trying to feed fears and intolerance for a broad range of reasons…. I will remain positive and remain pulling people together, pulling communities together right across this country.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says anti-black racism exists in Canada

Ontario’s minister responsible for immigration, Lisa MacLeod, was on hand Monday for Trudeau’s news conference. It’s the prime minister who is creating divisions by shouting ‘racism’ at those who question his government’s immigration policies, she said.

“I think when the prime minister, when confronted with some of the problems his government has created, turns around and fearmongers and calls people un-Canadian or racist, (he) really debases the debate that we’re having.”

Ontario’s new Conservative government has also called on the federal government to foot the bill for services provided to asylum seekers, which that province has tallied at $200 million and climbing.

The federal government has so far offered a total of $50 million to Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba to offset expenses incurred as a result of a spike in asylum seekers entering the country by way of unofficial entry points along the Canada-U.S. border.

Of that sum, Quebec — where the bulk of the crossings have taken place — would receive $36 million.

The issue of irregular border crossings could become a wedge issue in the campaign leading up to the next federal election scheduled for the fall of 2019.

At an event Sunday marking Trudeau’s formal nomination to run for re-election in the Montreal riding of Papineau, Trudeau emphasized the fight against extremist populism as a plank in his party’s 2019 platform, and accused Conservative rival Andrew Scheer of exploiting fear and division.

Teresa Wright and Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Council briefs: Moby Dick owner publicly speaks to Prince Rupert council about her goats

Council heard arguments supporting municipal voting for permanent residents

Researchers to flush Skeena with bright dyes for spill-response study

Kitsumkalum leading effort as rail transport of hazardous materials on the rise

UPDATE: Fate of last house standing from Third Ave. fire in hands of insurance

The second home, located at 941 Third Ave., was demolished due to safety concerns

Tahltan reach benefits agreement over Seabridge’s massive KSM gold mine project

$308M agreement provides additional billions for Tahltan jobs, contracts

PHOTO GALLERY AND STORY: Spectrum City Dance “cell”ebrates another successful season

“Cindy’s Cell” a comment on technology in the digital age through dance

Prince Rupert sea cadets voyage into a new chapter at their Annual Ceremonial Review

Mayor Lee Brain acted as review officer at the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corp 7 Captain Cook ACR

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Most Read