Trudeau confronted by frustrated volunteer while filling sandbags
Published Saturday, April 27, 2019 5:29PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 27, 2019 6:13PM EDT
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was confronted by a man on Saturday, who said he was frustrated that Trudeau’s RCMP security detail was holding up volunteers trying to fill sandbags.
The man approached the prime minister in Constance Bay, Ont., where Trudeau and his two sons were helping out with efforts to prevent flooding from the Ottawa River.
“I’ve been waiting in line down the road for 30 minutes while you've been here soaking up the rays,” the unidentified man in a baseball cap yelled at Trudeau.
Trudeau responded that he was “sorry” for the man’s “challenge.”
“It’s not my challenge,” the man said. “I’m a volunteer trying to help someone save their home.”
Trudeau said that his family had spent 15 minutes filling up sandbags and that he was there to draw attention to the flooding.
“I was in truck for an hour waiting while you were here for the photo op,” the man retorted.
“That’s unfriendly and unneighbourly today,” Trudeau shot back. “We’re here to help.”
A spokesperson for the prime minister said that his protective detail was not impeding the sandbagging progress, and that “many vehicles” were coming and going while the PM was there.
Visits by politicians to disaster zones can be a sensitive topic. After Fort McMurray., Alta., was evacuated due to wildfires in May 2016, Trudeau held off on visiting the area for a week.
“I think we’re all aware that a prime minister showing up in Fort McMurray when firefighters are busy trying to contain a massive, raging wildfire is not a particularly helpful thing,” he said at the time.
One year earlier, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was criticized for a photo-op with firefighters battling a blaze near Kelowna, B.C.
On Saturday, deputy Conservative leader Lisa Raitt criticized Trudeau for how he handled the frustrated man in Constance Bay.
“A frustrated person, dealing with an urgent situation complains to the PM,” she wrote on Twitter. “Instead of putting himself in this man’s shoes - the PM gets all huffy & petulant and calls him names. Wow.”
“Photo op issue aside - for me it’s how he treats the volunteer that shows his character,” she added. “Zero compassion from this spoiled PM. It’s all about him.”