NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh was interrupted during a meet-and-greet Wednesday by a visibly angry woman who clapped in his face and accused him of supporting “sharia law.”
Rather than fighting fire with fire, Singh, who is Sikh, responded by letting the heckler shout before telling her that the crowd at the Brampton, Ont. event would not be “intimidated by hate.”
“We don't want hatred to ruin a positive event. So let’s show people how we treat people with love," Singh said as he encouraged the audience to applaud.
The woman, who introduced herself as a women’s and children’s advocate, accused Singh of ignoring her calls and launched into a tirade against the politician.
"When is your sharia going to end?" the woman said, referring to Islamic law. "At what point, when we're throwing gays off rooftops?"
Aides stepped in an attempt to speak to the woman, who repeatedly ordered them not to touch her and threatened to call police.
Singh eventually interjected to speak directly to the crowd over the microphone.
“What do we believe in? Love and courage,” he said. “We believe in an inclusive Canada where no one is left behind. We believe in building a Canada that ensures that there is economic justice for everybody.
As the crowd cheered, the woman stood smiling beside Singh, smiling and clapping, and said, “I love it! Awesome! Absolutely! Diversity!”
She continued to carry on, pointing her fingers in Singh’s face and shouting, “Where is your sharia going to stop?”
Singh eventually turned to directly address the heckler.
“We welcome you. We love you. We support you … we believe in your rights,” he said, as the crowd chanted “love and courage” – a slogan used by Singh’s leadership campaign.
The encounter ended after several minutes when the woman decided to walk away.
Singh admitted to the crowd that the situation was “awkward” but that, as a “brown-skinned” man who wears a turban and a beard, it was nothing new for him.
“It’s not a problem. We can deal with it. There’s going to be other obstacles we’re going to face, and we’re going to face them with what? With love and courage,” he said.
Video of the one-way shouting match has been viewed more than 18,000 times since it was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.
Singh, an Ontario NDP member of provincial parliament, is one of four leadership candidates vying to lead the party at the federal level and challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in the 2019 election.
Singh faces Ontario MP Charlie Angus, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton and Quebec MP Guy Caron. The party will vote to replace Tom Mulcair on Sept. 18, with the first round of voting results announced on Oct. 1.