A packed gymnasium, full of students and some media was the setting for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Town Hall meeting at McMaster University in Hamilton. No questions were allowed from media, but many students got their questions answered by a smart and visibly rested Trudeau who seemed eager to hear what the students had to say. Although he started about 20 minutes late, he arrived to uproarious applause. It was Trudeau’s third visit to the University since he was elected.
Hecklers’ voices were also heard – one student shouted angrily at Trudeau about the pay out by the federal government to Omar Khadr to which Trudeau said, once the student calmed down, that the issue has angered many Canadians, and, he said, it even angered him, saying the money could have gone to important programs. This seemed to appease the young woman, who interrupted Trudeau as he tried to answer her. She stood taping his reply from her phone. Trudeau went on to say that the $10.5 million was part of a deal to settle Khadr’s long-standing lawsuit over violations of his rights, and that the government could not do anything about the settlement.
The McMaster Town hall is one of six cities the PM will stop at on his tour. The meeting got further heated near the end of when a group of people stood with a banner about Indigenous rights and Palestine. Another heckler yelled something inaudible about abortion and God, and while Trudeau tried to answer him, even calling him back so he could, the man began to storm out, but just before he got to the door, Trudeau asked him if he wanted to hear about Indigenous rights, the man kept walking and as he left, Trudeau said, “God bless you.”
The PM handled the hecklers and the crowd like a pro, and was swarmed as he left the gym floor. RCMP, Hamilton police, and McMaster police were a heavy presence.