MONTREAL – For the second time in two days, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was confronted on Sunday by a protester during a visit to Quebec to coincide with the Fete nationale holiday.
A woman approached Trudeau at a family celebration in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, west of Montreal, and called him “a traitor.”
“Happy Fete Nationale,” Trudeau said in response, as he continued to greet members of the crowd.
A day earlier, a man confronted Trudeau at an event in his riding and suggested the prime minister had come to speak English and taunt Quebecers in their home.
The incidents were blips in an otherwise pleasant weekend of meet-and-greets the prime minister attended at a number of public events organized to mark the June 24 holiday.
Trudeau’s visit will wrap up Sunday afternoon following a visit to a circus festival in the company of his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.
Trudeau’s brief encounters with protesters were downright tame when compared to the angry reception his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, received exactly 50 years earlier at Montreal’s annual St-Jean-Baptiste parade in 1968.
In what would be remembered as one of the most politically charged moments in Quebec history, people tossed bottles in his direction and the event degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters. As those sitting near him tried to drag him to safety, the elder Trudeau stood his ground and refused to leave the stage.
The next day his Liberals easily formed the government.
The leaders of the other major federal parties were also in Quebec for Sunday’s holiday, which is also known as St-Jean-Baptiste Day.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s agenda included stops in at least four municipalities, ending with a Fete nationale celebration in Quebec City.
In Montmagny, an hour’s drive east of the provincial capital, Scheer highlighted his party’s recent successes in the province, which include the recruitment of a former Bloc Quebecois leader as a member and a victory in a federal byelection on June 18.
Conservative candidate Richard Martel captured 52.7 per cent of the vote in a federal byelection held in Chicoutimi-Le Fjord, more than 5,000 votes ahead of Liberal Lina Boivin, who took 29.5 per cent.
In a Sunday morning speech broadcast on his YouTube channel, Scheer referred several times to Martel’s victory, blasted Trudeau’s Liberals and spoke of Quebec’s “undeniable” importance to Canada.
“Without (Quebec), Canada would be quite simply not be the same,” he said. “Quebecers form a nation that gives Canada its colour.”
Scheer said he and his MPs were holding roundtables around the province to devise a political strategy that is by, and for, Quebecers.
“Our goal is to make a political offer that responds to the aspirations and ambitions of Quebecers,” he said.
Jagmeet Singh is scheduled to be in Montreal’s Rosemont neighbourhood on Sunday afternoon, where he’ll join the celebrations alongside NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice.
“On the occasion of St-Jean-Baptiste, we accompany Quebecers to celebrate the rich culture of Quebec and share this beautiful French language that makes Quebec such a formidable place,” Singh said in a video published on his Twitter account on Sunday morning.