Pro-Hamas protesters who shut down Trudeau-Meloni gala

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The loud protesters who chanted “there is only one solution, intifada revolution” — and even attempted to injure a federal cabinet minister — at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) Saturday night must feel like they’re in charge.

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Maybe they are, now.

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Just like that, there would be no gala dinner for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Italian counterpart,  Giorgia Meloni, inside the art gallery. Outside, cabinet minister Ahmed Hussen, who represents a Toronto riding, had something thrown at him twice by Pro-Hamas protesters as he unsuccessfully attempted to enter.

“Due to security concerns, the event was cancelled,” the Prime Minister’s Office told CBC News.

Video from journalist Andrea Houston shows the first projectile nearly hit the minister on the head.  This was an all out assault and an attempt to hurt the minister.

It was a gross scene unbecoming Canada and Toronto.

Toronto Police have not made any arrests so far. But there needs to be some consequences.

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It’s all caught on video, and police have shown they do review those and lay charges later. Targeting anybody, let alone a cabinet minister, can’t be glossed over. It’s unacceptable. Police should consider laying charges on whoever organizes or pays these protesters, as well.

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Pro-Hamas demonstrators have been calling for a “shut down” of Canada for weeks, and Saturday night, they achieved it. They had more planned for Sunday at a York Region synagogue — organizers on social media even taunted police to “bring out the cavalry for this one.”

The scene on Clarke Ave. W., Thornhill, on Sunday was heated with protesters on one side of a street holding Palestinian flags and counterprotesters on the other, waving Israel flags.

Vaughan Mayor Steven Del Duca called for calm.

“Let me be crystal clear: hate and intolerance have no place in Vaughan (or anywhere else in Canada),” said the mayor. “I urge everyone organizing and participating in the protests to remain peaceful and respectful.

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Thornhill MP Melissa Lanstman, the deputy leader of the Conservatives, posted to X, “Thornhillers who have seen the calls for protests in our neighbourhood — we know you’re concerned. Protesting a synagogue and in Jewish neighbourhoods should be called out for what it is: intimidation. That’s the only purpose.

Intimidation has proven to work.

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Luckily, it wasn’t truckers who stopped Trudeau’s dinner with Italian Prime Minister Meloni.

Police, then, would have been given the nod to clear out the protesters with any means necessary to ensure everybody got into the AGO. Instead, a pro-Hamas throng of about only 100 strong were able to block every door, barring entry of cabinet ministers and invited guests.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, meets with the Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni in Toronto on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2024. Photo by Cole Burston /The Canadian Press

What an embarrassment for Canada. What a dark day for Toronto. But it shows the world, and specifically those who support terrorist Hamas right here in the GTA, how much power they have.

They feel they are in control.

Freedom Convoy protesters in Ottawa in 2022 never acted like this. The trucks from across the country blocked Wellington St. in front of Parliament Hill but didn’t impede anybody from getting anywhere by foot as we saw at the AGO.

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The ugliest incident was the abuse of Hussen, who was not only prevented from going in the AGO’s front door, but surrounded by protesters. He had things hurled at him, a Palestinian flag draped over his head, and protesters also hurled vile obscenities at the politician.

Once police intervened, he was heckled and harassed as they walked away.

This is a Toronto MP, a father of four, from the riding of York South Weston and Canada’s Minister of International Development, who has called for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza and has visited the region.

No one should be intimidated or impeded by any protester.

But it happened.

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And not just to Hussen. Liberal MP Marco Mendicino, a former cabinet minister who has taken a pro-Israel stance, was also harassed while walking down the street near the AGO. These two Liberal MPs have taken very different positions since the Oct. 7 Black Sabbath massacre at the Israel/Gaza border.

But nuance does not matter to these protesters, who appear to feel that you oppose them if you’re not 100% with them. Calling the actions “disgusting anti-Semitic protests,” Mendicino said members of the Italian community were also assaulted and called for arrests and charges.

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The police have had a difficult time, taking a patient approach when dealing with such protests. They don’t always make arrests on the spot, but review video and make arrests later.

Hopefully, those who harassed Hussen will soon be before the courts. It won’t change the fact that an important international dinner was cancelled, but may send a message that Canada cares that it was.

Meanwhile, all eyes were on Thornhill Sunday where Del Duca assured “we will have our special enforcement unit and corporate security on site as a precaution, working in coordination with York Regional Police.”

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