Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off his annual week of town hall meetings yesterday in Kamloops, British Columbia. The meetings are an opportunity for community members to ask questions directly to the Prime Minister.
The meeting began in an uneventful fashion, but quickly became tense as hecklers began to shout at Trudeau in the middle of his responses to other questions.
TL;DR Trudeau faced several heated questions during his first town hall meeting. Many Indigenous community members spoke out against the ongoing pipeline issue. Trudeau did his very best to keep things civil and constructive.
I’m in Kamloops, BC answering questions from Canadians at our first town hall of 2019 – watch it live: https://t.co/RGkLD8N1Rd— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 10, 2019
The people can't be seen in the video below, but you can hear one man begin to shout as Trudeau is answering a question about carbon taxation.
While it is difficult to make out, you can hear the man addressing the current RCMP court injunction in relation to Coastal GasLink's planned pipeline.
"You say you want truth and reconciliation with First Nations but then you have our people arrested," the man shouts, around the 25-minute mark.
Trudeau politely asks the man to please settle down and allow him to finish addressing the woman's carbon tax question.
"You're a liar and a weak leader," the man can be heard again as he continues to shout.
Trudeau maintained his composure and polite demeanour as he continued to ask the man to please respect the woman's "ability to ask a question."
Trudeau then encourages the man to sit down and stay saying, "you might enjoy it."
The man finally does quiet down and seems to even join the meeting by taking a seat and listening to the PM's responses.
The Prime Minister did not come back to the man that had originally heckled him, however, he was still faced with questions about Indigenous relations from other community members.
One woman asked Trudeau what he planned to do, as a colonizer, to stop the oppression of Indigenous people in Canada.
"I come here with my prayers, and I come here with my ancestors. And today I want to ask you: what are you going to do to stop oppressing and holding our people under? When are you going to give us our rights back? When are you going to start giving a shit about who we are as people and not seeing us just for our land?"
The room broke out in cheers after the question, and Trudeau quickly admitted that as a country, Canada has failed to live up to the initial "spirit of the treaties."
While answering the question, Trudeau is again interrupted by the shouts of other community members.
And again, Trudeau gracefully and politely addresses the hecklers, thanks them for their comments, and asks them to allow him the opportunity to answer and respond thoughtfully to the questions posed to him.
Trudeau certainly has a lot to live up to after speaking at this town hall. In the video, he states that Canada has made "significant progress" in dealing with Indigenous issues, self-governance, and support.
“You don’t have a deed to Shuswap territory,” Jack says, adding Trudeau has no right to build a pipeline (the #TransMountain line) through his territory. He repeatedly asks Trudeau whether he has a deed to the terroritory. “No, I do not,” Trudeau says. #cdnpoli— Laura Kane (@ellekane) January 10, 2019
Trudeau later addresses the boil-water advisories that continue to be in place in many Indigenous communities, as well as the lack of parity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth when it comes to funding and accessibility.
The woman who initially pressed for answers again speaks up during Trudeau's response.
"You are afraid to lose your comfort."
She also addresses the RCMP, saying they should be there protecting the Indigenous people as they protest, not arresting them.
"You are protecting a dirty pipeline, and that is not honourable."
Check out the full video below: