Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau is defending himself for calling a woman a racist after she asked him about immigration during a recent political event.
There has been a mixed response to how Trudeau handled things. Some people have praised the prime minister for shutting the woman down, while others criticized him and said he skirted around the question. Trudeau is standing behind the comment he made, and said he isn’t afraid to speak out when people are attempting to “push politics of fear and indeed, intolerance.”
Trudeau said it is one of his obligations as prime minister:
That’s something Canadians expect of me.
Trudeau was speaking on Thursday at a corn roast in Sabrevois, Quebec, about 30 miles from Montreal.
One woman, who has since been identified as Diane Blain, shouted at the prime minister from the crowd, asking about $146 million related to immigrants entering the country.
She initially asked:
When will you give back the $146 million to Quebec? I’d like your response. I’m a senior, and I’d like a response.
Madam, thank you for being here this evening, thank you very much for your support. I’m very happy to have you here. You ask what we can deliver for seniors. Madam, we delivered an increase in the guaranteed income supplement of $1,000 per month, by $1,000 per year, for seniors on their own, the most vulnerable.
After some back and forth, Blain repeated the question:
Answer me, I want to know when you will give us back the $146 million that we paid for your illegal immigrants.
— CBC Montreal (@CBCMontreal) August 20, 2018
Some people feel Trudeau’s response went too far:
This intolerance regarding immigrants does not have a place in Canada. This intolerance of diversity, you do not have a place here.
Critics are saying Trudeau didn’t handle things as he should have:
She appears to be an elderly local lady. Yes, her heckling is rude and mildly disruptive, but nothing a politician doesn’t expect from time to time when speaking at open public events. But for the PM to approach and confront her face to face and call her racist goes way too far.
— Howard Anglin (@howardanglin) August 19, 2018
It’s the bullying tone that bothers me. A powerful politician shouldn’t confront and yell slurs at little old ladies. She was rude, but that’s her right. PM needs to keep his cool, not hector a pensioner voicing common frustrations. He could’ve ignored her; he chose to bully her.
— Howard Anglin (@howardanglin) August 19, 2018
Some have even suggested that the prime minister lashing out at the woman is a sign of a dictatorship:
First question entirely legitimate–same question being asked by the Governments of QC, Ontario and Manitoba–and Trudeau chose to inflame the situation rather than give a straight answer https://t.co/0cRyYFoULX
— Norman Spector (@nspector4) August 20, 2018
This is a sign of a dictatorship. All she did was ask questions about the cost of illegal border crossers & Trudeau got in her face and called her racist, intolerant and she was strong armed by his goons. PM Happy Hands has got to go. @AndrewScheer https://t.co/SE6MuloNrL
— Farming in Ontario (@RuralOntWoman) August 19, 2018
Trudeau openly identifies as a feminist and supports the LGBTQ+ community, making him a favorite politician among progressives around the world.
Many are praising and supporting his words, calling him “a man of principle and morality”:
It’s great to see a man of principle and morality lead on the world stage. I wish America had a leader like Justin Tredeau ! ❤️
— Alexsmart12345 (@alexsmart12345) August 21, 2018
The best prime minister .. ever
— Thair kanani (@ThairKanani) August 21, 2018
Good on Trudeau for this!! People NEED to stop fearing immigration – leaving one place for another only became a problem when borders became a concept.
We’re all human, what would you hope for if you needed to permanently leave home? https://t.co/dAoNmXGVnB
— Michelle Fillion (@FillionMichelle) August 21, 2018
Blain is an active member of several white supremacist organizations, including the anti-immigration nationalist group Storm Alliance.
Chances are she might actually be a racist:
What's really hilarious is Canadian conservative Twitter has been clutching many pearls regarding this.
“How *dare* Trudeau call that woman racist!”
— Wendel Schwab (@WendelSchwab) August 20, 2018
My mistake, “The elderly woman” is a member of *three* far right white supremacist groups. She's also a member of Front Patriotique du Québec. #cdnpoli
— Wendel Schwab (@WendelSchwab) August 21, 2018
He shut down a racist. If you don't want to be called a racist, then don't be a racist.
— Cody Mike (@CodyMikeSpeaks) August 22, 2018
Trudeau has not yet responded directly to criticism of his behavior.