Prime Minister Stephen Harper's wife, Laureen, was briefly interrupted during a speech at an online cat video festival  in Toronto Thursday night after a university activist demanded she take a stance on a subject she considered to be much more serious.

She was just beginning her brief remarks ahead of Just for Cats: Internet Cat Video Festival at the TIFF Bell Lightbox cinema when 21-year-old student activist Hailey King began shouting from the crowd.

“Raising awareness about cat welfare is a good look for your husband’s upcoming campaign strategy," King said as security rushed over to escort her from the building. "Don’t you think supporting government action on missing and murdered indigenous women in this country would be a better look?”  

Harper, who initially attempted to dismiss King's comments by speaking over her, did stop to address the young women directly.

“We’re raising money for animals tonight. If you’d like to donate to animals, we’d love to take your money," Harper said. "That’s (missing women) a great cause, but that's another night. Tonight we’re here for homeless cats.”

On Twitter afterwards, King tweeted that she thought Harper had "reacted rather rudely to me."

"Speak the truth even if our voice shakes right? My voice was shaking haha," King wrote on Twitter.

Harper is a cat foster mom and volunteers for the Humane Society.

The Just for Cats online video festival was started at the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis in 2012 and has since exploded in popularity and spread to other cities.

Funds from Thursday's event , the first staging of the festival in Canada, are going to support the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.


  • An earlier version of this story quoted Laureen Harper as saying "That's (missing women) a great cause, perhaps another night." In fact, she said, "That's (missing women) a great cause, but that's another night."
    Apr 18, 2014 7:10 PM ET