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Trudeau cancels appearance at event in B.C. after protesters hurl racial slurs

Anita Anand

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was forced to cancel plans to attend a fundraising dinner on Tuesday evening after two speakers at the event said protesters hurled racial slurs at the mostly South Asian attendees entering a convention centre in Surrey, B.C.

Trudeau did not enter the building and spoke to a crowd for about three minutes by Zoom instead of making a speech in person.

He said no one should be intimidated or stopped from exercising their democratic freedoms “because that’s what this country is all about.”

Trudeau said he would return to see his supporters in Surrey in the future, and an organizer of the event told attendees they should feel free to stay and enjoy dinner.

Defence Minister Anita Anand addressed the crowd, but a Liberal Party staffer asked a reporter to leave the room.

The party said in a statement to The Canadian Press that everyone participating “in our democracy should feel safe and respected.”

About four dozen protesters used expletives as they chanted against Trudeau and honked horns outside the convention centre.

“We don’t like the way he’s running Canada,” one man said as another spoke through a megaphone.

About half a dozen RCMP officers stood by watching the crowd.

Earlier this month, police began investigating after a video circulated on social media showed people hurling verbal abuse at NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during a protest in Peterborough, Ont.

The federal NDP leader had dropped by the campaign office for an Ontario NDP candidate running in the provincial election.

A video shows Singh encountering protesters as he left the campaign office, and they can be heard shouting expletives at him and calling him a “traitor'” as he gets inside a vehicle.

Singh later told reporters he found the experience “intense, threatening (and) insulting'” but that he is more worried about what it means for politics in general.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.

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St. Clair College Easter brunch event returns after two-year hiatus

St. Clair College Easter brunch event returns after two-year hiatus

The annual St. Clair College Centre for the Arts Easter Brunch returned with in-person dining on Sunday after a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Five hundred tickets sold out in about two weeks, according to organizers who say they’re already looking ahead to Mother’s Day.

“We’re extremely excited after a two-year hiatus to have Easter brunch back here at the Center for the Arts,” says Joe D’Angela, director of operations.

“It’s good to see that things are returning back to normal and having the activity back in our ballrooms.”

D’Angela suggests anyone interested in booking reservations for May to act fast, noting it will be a similar setup and that tickets are already 50 per cent sold.

“It’s reservation only by calling the Chrysler Theatre Box Office. Reservation times are 11, 11:30 and 12 o’clock,” D’Angela explains all reservations are for private tables. “We’re still adhering to some restrictions and it makes people a lot more comfortable that they’re sitting on their own private table they’re not sitting with other guests.”

D’Angela adds, “in the past that we would put 800 people in the ballroom, but we’ve decided this year to keep it around 500. We just want people to be really comfortable coming in dining with us know.”

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Pierre Poilievre draws huge crowds, but which candidate will have the memberships?

Pierre Poilievre

Stephanie Taylor and Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press

Published Saturday, April 9, 2022 6:40AM EDT

With 10 days left for candidates to enter the Conservative party leadership race — and 20 before $300,000 worth in fees are due — what’s capturing the attention of those watching as of late are the crowds.

More specifically, who’s drawing them in and who isn’t.

Pierre Poilievre would fall into the first category, as the longtime Ottawa-area MP has been consistently appearing before massive groups of people at rallies across the country.

“The sort of draw that he has to bring people out is unprecedented,” said Connor Hollingshead, president of the Conservative campus club at Simon Fraser University, who says he’s not endorsing anyone.

Poilievre recently spoke to students in Vancouver at an event co-hosted with Conservatives at the University of British Columbia. Later that Thursday, he addressed a rally crowd that his campaign said swelled to more than 1,000.

Staying late to smile for photos and greet those who waited out long lines to meet him has also been a common occurrence at events — as has selling memberships.

Signing up new members and then doing the followup work to make sure they fill out their ballots correctly and mail everything in on time is what successful leadership campaigns are about. 

As of Saturday, candidates have under two months left to sign up members before the June 3 deadline.

Among the buzz being generated around Poilievre, who was the first to enter the contest, is who is attending his events.

Not only is the Conservative faithful flocking, but also those who don’t typically frequent political events, including the under-40 crowd.

“The Poilievre movement has taken off all across the country, and it’s only the beginning,” tweeted Sen. Leo Housakos, a co-chair on his campaign.

Hollingshead says he saw some of that firsthand. About 150 people, most of them students, came to the campus event. He said that was the largest crowd they have seen in five years, when reality TV star Kevin O’Leary ran for the party’s top job in 2017.

“He is certainly a different breed of politician,” Hollingshead said of Poilievre. “He’s speaking to a lot of the frustrations that young people have in this country.”

Railing against the price of a home is one of his go-to messages. In Vancouver, Poilievre also pledged to uphold free speech at universities, at one point joking that a sudden loud sound was censors coming to get him.

When he promised to defund the CBC — a popular Conservative rallying cry — the crowd cheered. He also peppered his speech with mentions of historical figures like Winston Churchill and John Diefenbaker.

For UBC graduate student Avril Lee, it’s not just what Poilievre says, but how he says it.

“My mom is on Instagram and we both follow Pierre … and we easily watch his videos daily. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re serious. His messaging is very clear and simple.”

Longtime Conservative strategist Melanie Paradis, who is remaining neutral in the race, says Poilievre’s crowds are impressive, comparing them to the support seen around Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

The key will be turning that into memberships, she says.

But Paradis cautioned that photos of the room don’t always tell the full picture of what’s happening on a campaign.

“Andrew Scheer won the 2017 leadership in church basements. Nobody took pictures of his rallies,” she said Friday.

“When you don’t see people out and about, that’s not indicative that nothing is going on. Rather, they’re like a duck: They’re smooth and calm on the surface, but they’re kicking their little feet as fast as they can under the water.”

One candidate who’s been keeping a lower public profile and is known for his hustle in Tory circles is Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who was recently added to the official list of candidates after he submitted his first $50,000 fee and met other party-stipulated thresholds.

“Patrick has attended nearly 200 events in the last three weeks and is excited about the number of memberships that have been sold,” campaign spokesman Jeff Silverstein said Friday.

Michelle Coates Mather, a spokeswoman on Jean Charest’s campaign, says the former Quebec premier has 1,500 volunteers, 400 organizers and was nearing $1 million in campaign fundraising.

“The constant obsession with the status of our campaign on Twitter just confirms for us that some of our opponents are afraid our momentum,” she wrote in an email to The Canadian Press, referring to how some have compared his crowd sizes to those of Poilievre’s.

“At the end of the day tweets are just tweets, photos of crowds are just photos, it’s membership sales that count.”

Paradis says members like to pick winners, and photos of packed rooms can be a motivator for supporters and volunteers.

Leslyn Lewis, who placed third in the party’s 2020 leadership race and is popular with the party’s social conservative wing, recently announced she raised the $300,000 required to be on the ballot.

She too has hit the road, campaigning in communities across the Prairies and most recently in Calgary and Red Deer, Alta., at times drawing hundreds and selling memberships at her events.

“We have been having great attendance at Leslyn’s events and are encouraged to see such high engagement across campaigns,'” campaign manager Steve Outhouse wrote in an email.

“Having multiple strong candidates bringing in new members bodes very well for our party’s fortunes in the next election.”

Candidates are set to appear face-to-face for what will likely be the first time on May 5 in a leadership debate hosted by the Canada Strong and Free Network to kick off its annual conference in Ottawa.

Poilievre, Lewis and Charest have confirmed they will go, as have MP Marc Dalton and independent Ontario MPP Roman Baber.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2022

— By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa and Brenna Owen in Vancouver