Newmarket citizens expressed relief at the lack of jeering protestors as Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made his second campaign stop in Newmarket a the farmers' market this morning.
The Sept. 18 visit lacked the more than 200 angry protestors that marred Trudeau's first campaign visit at Cachet restaurant Sept. 5, with some of them allegedly making racist remarks. Trudeau has faced multiple protests on the campaign trail, but faced little opposition as he made his way through the farmers' market, greeted by supporters as he visited several stalls.
Newmarket-Aurora Liberal candidate Tony Van Bynen, who walked alongside Trudeau, said it was a great way to “reset the dial.”
“We weren’t happy with what happened last time.” Van Bynen said. “It’s good for the prime minister to know that Newmarket is supportive, encouraging and inclusive.”
Trudeau did not pause for any lengthy statements at the event, instead posing for photographs and greeting the crowd. The stop was part of a long itinerary for the Liberal leader in one of the last days of the campaign before the Sept. 20 election. He started the morning in Aurora and is scheduled to end the day in Peterborough.
Van Bynen campaign volunteer Christine Harrison said she was happy to meet Trudeau and relieved at the lack of protestors.
“I wanted to show my support because we’re not all like the people who disrupted the last campaign stop,” she said. “They’re not representative of the way most Canadians think or act.”
Some of that Sept. 5 opposition crowd held People’s Party of Canada signs, but the party contingent present at the market Sept. 18 did not disrupt the visit. Newmarket-Aurora People’s Party of Canada candidate Andre Gagnon was also drumming up support there and said the Liberals were able to keep their event under the radar to prevent any protest.
“They kept it hush-hush, as much as they could,” Gagnon said.
He added that he does not support things like rock throwing or any hate speech that some protestors have been accused of, but that people have a right to voice their dissatisfaction with Trudeau.
“People have to have a free voice,” he said. “They voiced their frustration to the man who is responsible for a lot of their frustrations.”
MG Bees owner Dottie Batt was at one of the stalls Trudeau visited, with the leader buying honey from her. She said it was a positive experience.
“I was excited. I’ve been trying to see him for a long time so it was nice to get up close,” Batt said.
Although Trudeau had dozens of supporters following him, some in the crowd were not backing him. Newmarket resident Lisa Heckbert got to ask Trudeau directly about him calling an election and said she was not satisfied with his answer to her.
“I don’t think it was in the best interests of Canadians. Truly, it was a power play,” she said of the election call. “I normally supported the Liberals in the past. I’m kind of disappointed in him as a leader this time around.”
No other political party leaders have visited the riding yet in this election.
Newmarket-Aurora Conservative Harold Kim campaign volunteer Richard H., who withheld his last name, held up an opposing sign during Trudeau’s visit. He called the event ''desperation” and said Trudeau is trying hard to defend the riding and incumbent Van Bynen.
“He's got to protect what he’s got, and he owns the GTA, essentially at this stage,” the man said.
But even with a close race between the Liberal and Conservative parties according to election polls, the Conservative supporter said it was good the previous protestors were not present.
“I’m glad they didn’t turn up again here. It speaks very poorly of our district to have those people turn up, and make a name for this town in that manner.”