Trudeau’s Toronto event with Italy PM Meloni cancelled due to pro-Palestinian protest


A Toronto event where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to host his Italian counterpart was cancelled on Saturday evening due to security concerns as hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside the venue, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office said. 

Justin Trudeau’s office says neither he nor Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni were able to enter the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), which went into lockdown over the protests.

Demonstrators criticized the federal government’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war and chanted that Trudeau was funding a genocide in Gaza.

Police told CBC News there were roughly 200 to 300 protesters outside the AGO on Saturday, but noted it was difficult to estimate the total size of the demonstration as protesters gathered outside several entrances.

“Due to security concerns, the event was cancelled,” a spokesperson for the PMO told CBC News on Saturday night via email. 

Would-be attendees gathered outside were confronted by demonstrators, with their paths to entry blocked. Some were later escorted to the building’s entrance by police.

People carry signs and flags during a protest outside a building.
Pro-Palestinian protesters block the entrances to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto on Saturday. (Christian Paas-Lang/CBC)

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen tried to enter through the main entrance, but protesters blocked his path and followed him for two blocks as he tried to enter a more secure location while flanked by police.

“You are complicit in the genocide. Your hands are red. You are complicit in the murder of my family members and my friends,” one demonstrator said to him.

Meloni, Italy’s prime minister since 2022, was in Toronto for meetings with Trudeau. The two G7 leaders discussed a wide range of topics, including what Meloni called the “very difficult Middle East crisis.”

Israel declared war on Hamas following an Oct. 7 attack that saw 1,200 people killed and some 250 kidnapped by the Islamist militants, according to Israeli tallies.

The subsequent military operation by Israel in Hamas-controlled Gaza has now killed more than 30,000 people, most of them women and children, Gaza health officials say.

Canada, which considers Hamas a terrorist group, has repeatedly said that Israel has the right to defend itself, but Ottawa has more recently called for a ceasefire in the conflict due to the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Police stand guard outside a building as protesters gather nearby.
Police stand guard outside the Art Galley of Ontario in Toronto on Saturday as pro-Palestinian protesters gather. (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images)

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