Justin Trudeau was at the centre of tension on Wednesday during his appearance at a Liberal fundraiser in Vancouver. The event, which took place at the Opus Hotel in Yaletown, was attended by anti-pipeline protesters who attempted to disrupt the fundraiser by heckling the prime minister. The protestors made their voices heard both inside and outside of the event.
According to CTV News, protesters assembled outside of the lunchtime fundraiser banging on drums and giving speeches against the Trans Mountain pipeline as Trudeau made an announcement about Coast Guard Vessels. However, it wasn’t long before the protests escalated, and police became involved.
A 74-year-old woman was knocked to the ground by a police officer after supposedly pushing a member of the Prime Minister’s security team. In a shocking video obtained by CTV News, the elderly woman is tossed back by a police officer and a man in a suit. She then falls to the ground on her back and appears disoriented. Her fellow protesters help the woman back onto her feet.
The woman identified as Susan Stout complained of a “bump on her head” during an interview with CTV News. However, the exact extent of her injury is unknown.
Tensions were just as high inside the venue. Trudeau found himself in a heated exchange with Will George, a member of the Tsleil-Waututh community. In a video posted by Global News, George fires shots at Trudeau and accuses him of being “a liar and a weak leader.”
“How dare you bring that through our waters, those are our spiritual highways. You have no right to do that to us,” George said.
Trudeau calmy responded, stating that not all members of the First Nations community oppose the project. The prime minister then assured George that he heard him while the protester was escorted out by security. “I heard you. I hear you today, I understand your concerns,” said Trudeau, according to Global News.
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation has a significant stake in the pipeline issue. The nation’s traditional territory stretches across large sections of the Lower Mainland, which they claim will be ecologically damaged by the project, reports Global News. However, not all Indigenous groups are opposed to the pipeline. At least two different coalitions have actually been trying to buy the project, which is owned by the Canadian government.
A vehicle equipped with a jumbotron that read “Trudeau, no pipelines in a climate emergency,” also promised to follow the prime minister around as travel to fundraising events.
The government currently has until June 18th to consult with Indigenous groups and make its final decision on the pipeline.