Politics Video

Transcript of Trudeau's exchange with hecklers at Quebec event

Prime minister was criticized for the way he handled interaction with audience member

August 21, 2018

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Here is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's heavily scrutinized exchange with a heckler at an event in Sabrevois, Que., on Aug. 16.  6:08

This is an English translation of an exchange between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a heckler during a corn roast in Sabrevois, Que., on Thursday, Aug. 16. The exchange was captured on Facebook Live video and other video posted online.

The heckler has been identified by La Presse Canadienne as Diane Blain, a member of a nationalist group that has advocated against immigration.

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The transcript below is of the full exchange compiled from Facebook Live and YouTube video clips, each of which contains sections that are hard to make out because of crosstalk but that have been reconciled in the combined transcript.

DIANE BLAIN: When will you give back the $146 million to Quebec? I'd like your response. I'm a senior, and I'd like a response.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU: Madam, thank you for being here this evening, thank you very much for your support. I'm very happy to have you here. You ask what we can deliver for seniors. Madam, we delivered an increase in the guaranteed income supplement of $1,000 per month, by $1,000 per year, for seniors on their own, the most vulnerable.

MALE HECKLER (repeatedly): We are not in Mohawk territory.

BLAIN: That's not what I asked you. We need the $146 million for Quebecers.

TRUDEAU: We invested billions of dollars for the Canada Child Benefit, which makes an enormous difference in the lives of families around the province and the country.

BLAIN: We're asking you for the $146 million for Quebecers that you gave to illegal immigrants.

TRUDEAU: Madam, one of the things that is important, madam, in politics is to listen. My friends, it is listening that counts. We are in dialogue.

MALE HECKLER (repeatedly): We are not in Mohawk territory.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses local Liberals and Liberal MPs from the South Shore of Montreal at a corn roast in Sabrevois, Que., on Aug. 16. Trudeau's exchange with a heckler at the event was heavily scrutinized by pundits and political opponents. (Carl Brochu/Facebook)

BLAIN: But you are not answering me.

TRUDEAU: Sir, you are in the course of saying things that are anti-Indigenous, it isn't very nice, it isn't very polite.

BLAIN: Answer me.

TRUDEAU: We are here to share, to dialogue, I am looking forward to listening to you.

BLAIN: Answer me, Mr. Trudeau.

One of the hecklers was identified by La Presse Canadienne as Diane Blain, a member of a nationalist, anti-immigrant.group. (Carl Brochu/Facebook)

TRUDEAU: On the condition that you listen to me now, madam. You have something to say, madam? Go ahead.

BLAIN: Answer me, I want to know when you will give us back the $146 million that we paid for your illegal immigrants.

TRUDEAU: OK, madam.

BLAIN: It's us who paid for that.

TRUDEAU: This intolerance regarding immigrants does not have a place in Canada. This intolerance of diversity, you do not have a place here.

(Cheering)

BLAIN: Hey. Trudeau. Trudeau.

TRUDEAU: Madam, Canada was built by waves of immigration that were welcomed by the First Nations, who showed us how to build a strong society, and the people who come here, generation after generation to build stronger communities, this is what makes us stronger as a country and, madam, your intolerance does not have a place here.

MAN OFF CAMERA: Yes, she's making threats. Get her out of here.

MAN IN WHITE SHIRT, BLACK VEST: Are you making threats?

Blain was approached by a man in a black vest, who later identified himself as a police officer, after someone in the crowd said Blain was making threats. (Carl Brochu/Facebook)

TRUDEAU: We are Liberals here, we know that diversity is a source of strength, never a source of weakness and madam, your fear, your fear of others, your intolerance does not have a place among us tonight. Thank you very much, my friends. Thank you for being here, thanks for working hard and uniting people because we see that there will be intolerance in the coming months. There will be attacks in the coming months.

BLAIN: I have another question.

TRUDEAU: But you must know that strength is to unite and not to scream, not to spread fear, not to spread intolerance, madam.

BLAIN (repeatedly): Are you tolerant of Québécois de souche [white French Quebecers]?

MALE HECKLER (repeatedly): We are not in Mohawk territory.

TRUDEAU: Yes madam, I am tolerant of all perspectives, it is you, madam, who is intolerant, and you don't have a place in this beautiful gathering of Liberals. Thank you, friends.

(Cheering. Trudeau descends from stage and begins shaking hands with people in the crowd.)

BLAIN: Have you spread intolerance towards Québécois de souche?

PERSON IN CROWD: [Swearing] Shut up, damn it.

BLAIN: Go ahead and give your hand to this Trudeau.

WOMAN IN CROWD: No, but it's enough, really.

(Crosstalk)

WOMAN IN CROWD: She's going in there.

(Blain approaches Trudeau.)

After his remarks from the stage, Trudeau walked through the crowd, shaking hands. (Carl Brochu/Facebook)

BLAIN: Mr. Trudeau are you tolerant of Québécois de souche?


What is a Québécois de souche?

Québécois de souche refers to descendants of the original French colonists who settled in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries. It excludes Quebecers of non-French heritage, such as descendants of British colonists, recent immigrants and Indigenous peoples.


TRUDEAU (repeated three times): Madam, your racism has no place here.

BLAIN: Answer me. You have no place in Quebec. Do you understand? You have no place in Quebec.

TRUDEAU: Excuse me, madam. I'm a proud Quebecer, madam, I'm a proud Quebecer.

(Shaking hands)

TRUDEAU: Thank you, it's lovely to see you.

Blain approached Trudeau and challenged him for his attitude toward 'Québécois de souche.' (Carl Brochu/Facebook)

(Trudeau continues shaking hands, cameraman leaves crowd and joins Blain who is being questioned.)

CAMERAMAN: Look at what they're doing with the woman. Look at what they're doing.

OFFICER WITH BASEBALL CAP: Do you have a piece of ID with you?

BLAIN: No.

OFFICER WITH BASEBALL CAP: Now you're going to come with me.

BLAIN: No.

OFFICER WITH BASEBALL CAP: Now come with me.

Another police officer tried to remove Blain from the crowd. (Carl Brochu/Facebook)

BLAIN: Let me go, you're hurting me.... Let me go, look I'll bruise.

(Crosstalk)

CAMERAMAN: She wasn't threatening anyone. She just wanted to speak.

BLAIN: I wasn't threatening anyone. I have the right to express my opinion to Mr. Trudeau. Let me go. Did you understand me? Let me go.

CAMERAMAN: You have no authority to hold this woman, you have no authority.

BLAIN: Hey, you gave me a bruise, look. 

(Another man approaches, wearing a badge.)

(Inaudible)

BLAIN: What happened? Well, I just asked Mr. Trudeau some questions, that's all.

OFFICER WITH BADGE: And then what happened?

Blain had words with the officer, saying she was only asking questions. (Carl Brochu/Facebook)

CAMERAMAN: She has the right to her opinion.

BLAIN: You don't have to arrest me because I asked questions.

OFFICER WITH BADGE: You're absolutely right.

OFFICER WITH BASEBALL CAP: Do you have a piece of ID on you? 

BLAIN: No, I don't, leave me alone, that's twice you've asked me.

OFFICER WITH BASEBALL CAP: What is your name?

BLAIN: You won't know, I don't want... 

OFFICER WITH BASEBALL CAP: I'm a police officer, ma'am.

CAMERAMAN: What is the number of your badge, we want to have it.

OFFICER WITH BASEBALL CAP: 62945. I'm a police officer (inaudible) with the RCMP, ma'am, I'm not finished with you.

BLAIN: Yeah, but I'm finished, because you hurt me. Hey. You hurt me. Look at the bruise you gave me.

Blain said her arm was bruised after the altercation with the officer. (Carl Brochu/Facebook)

(Blain walks away.)

MAN IN CROWD: We're witnessing the freedom of expression in Quebec.

(Blain is approached by officer again.)

BLAIN: I had the right to ask a question to Mr. Trudeau and he calls me intolerant, it's him who is intolerant with the Québécois de souche.

OFFICER WITH BADGE (inaudible) You're excited.

BLAIN: Oh no, I'm hysterical, I'm a woman. A man who says his opinion has balls but a woman who expresses her opinion is hysterical. Leave me alone.

(Blain walks away from officer.)

CAMERAMAN: You only talked, you didn't make any threats.

BLAIN: No, but, hey Mario. (inaudible) Yes, you didn't hear me? A crowd of police officers arrested me and look he gave me a bruise.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has come under scrutiny after he called a heckler racist; Conservative leader Andrew Scheer says Trudeau's rhetoric is what's dividing the country, but the issue is also threatening to divide the Conservative Party.  2:53

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