After Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to stand against “anti-vaxxer mobs” who oppose COVID-19 vaccination mandates, demonstrators threw rocks at him during a campaign stop Monday.
Video of the moment shared on Twitter by independent journalist Andy Ngo shows Trudeau being struck by handfuls of gravel as he boarded his campaign bus following an event at a brewery in London, Ontario, roughly 120 miles southwest of Toronto, the Washington Post reported.
In an interview on a Liberal campaign plane, Trudeau told reporters that the gravel “might have” hit his shoulder. Video of the interview was posted on Twitter by Abigail Bimman.
“There was little bits of gravel,” he said, dismissing the incident. “It’s no big deal.”
Large groups have protested during Trudeau’s appearances on the campaign trail, blasting the prime minister’s public health mandates. In August, one event in Bolton, Ontario, was even canceled when officials determined the protests posed a security threat.
“We all had a difficult year,” Trudeau said following the cancelation. “Those folks out protesting, they had a difficult year, too, and I know and I hear the anger, the frustration, perhaps the fear. … We need to meet that anger with compassion.”
Nevertheless, Trudeau said on Monday that he wouldn’t back down from the “antivaxxer mobs.”
“There is a small fringe element in this country that is angry, that doesn’t believe in science, that is lashing out with racist, misogynistic attacks,” Trudeau said during an event in Welland, Ontario.
“Canadians, the vast majority of Canadians are not represented by them,” he continued. “And I know [they] will not allow those voices … those anti-vaxxer mobs, to dictate how this country gets through this pandemic.”
Trudeau has shown support for vaccine mandates, implementing the requirement for federal civil servants and passengers traveling domestically on public transportation and airlines.
Alternatively, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole has encouraged Canadians to get the vaccine, but vowed not to mandate them for federal workers, instead opting for daily testing.
O’Toole blasted the demonstrators’ aggressive behavior towards Trudeau, calling it “disgusting” and condemning it “in the strongest terms possible.”
“Political violence is never justified and our media must be free from intimidation, harassment and violence,” he said.
A number of Canadian provinces, including Ontario, have kicked off or announced plans to require proof of vaccination to enter public spaces like restaurants and theaters.
The protesters have been using social media and apps like Telegram to organize demonstrations, relying on Trudeau’s itinerary to make plans. In response, the Liberal Party has taken down specific addresses of campaign stops.