Prime minister expresses frustration after protesters turn their back on him during event.
By Kathleen Harris, CBC News Posted: Oct 25, 2016 10:28 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 25, 2016 12:16 PM ET
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced off with a room of angry protesters today who were venting their frustrations over everything from pipelines to the failed federal payroll system.
Some of the participants turned their backs on Trudeau in protest during the “armchair discussion” event at the Canadian Labour Congress National Young Workers Summit in Ottawa.
“Honour your promises!” hollered some in the crowd, as event moderators tried to keep the peace.
“We don’t have dialogue with liars!”
Trudeau attempted to keep calm and urged people to engage in conversation over a war of words that “reflects poorly” on the crowd.
“I will tell you, it is a little bit frustrating for me to come in, sit down and look forward to hearing from you and talking with you, and seeing a room full of people who are standing in a way that shows they are not listening to me, that you don’t want to engage,” he said.
Some of the audience members heckled remarks about Indigenous rights and the Kinder Morgan pipeline. One placard read: “What will you commit to today?”
A woman, who was identified as a young worker representative for the Public Service Alliance of Canada and a member of the biggest union for federal workers’ bargaining team, grilled Trudeau on the failed Phoenix payroll system.
“When the hell are we going to get paid, and, two, when the hell are we going to get a contract that is a good deal for all of us, not just one generation?” she asked.
“And why are we sticking with the Conservative mandate? I’m just so confused.”
After the event, participants explained that they turned their backs on the prime minister as a “deliberate message” because they believe he has turned his back on them. Young people should be empowered to voice their opinions and challenge powerful authorities, they said.
One participant said she is tired of “broken promises,” including a wavering commitment to electoral reform.
Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, reminded the audience that the labour movement is a “respectful movement.”
“The reality is, we can only have constructive dialogue to make this country a better one if we hear each other,” he said. “The prime minister came here this morning as our guest. We spent 10 horrible years experiencing the worst government.”