TORONTO -- Liberal leadership contender Justin Trudeau says critics of his appearance a Toronto Islamic conference only work to divide Canadians.

He told the crowd of thousands it is "short-sighted" to pit one group of Canadians against another and railed against what he called the politics of division

Trudeau says the challenges faced by middle-class Canadians from all walks of life weld them together against the forces of intolerance.

Trudeau was criticized earlier this month for appearing at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference over allegations of a link between one of its sponsors and the militant group Hamas.

IRFAN-Canada withdrew from the conference a few days after the publicity created by the criticism over Trudeau's plans to speak.

The group's charitable status was revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency, which alleges the group used deceptive fundraising to send donations to organizations with ties to Hamas.

IRFAN denies any wrongdoing and says it is challenging the ruling.