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Police investigating after Toronto reception for Giorgia Meloni is canceled

Photo: Cole Burston The Canadian Press A protester walks in front of the entrance to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, where police stand guard on Saturday.

Sammy Hudes – The Canadian Press and The Canadian Press in Toronto

March 3, 2024

  • Canada

Toronto police are investigating whether illegal acts led to the cancellation of a reception that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was to give to his Italian counterpart, Giorgia Meloni.

The event was scheduled to take place at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto to cap off a busy day for both heads of government. It had to be canceled after demonstrators began chanting pro-Palestinian slogans and blocking the doors to the building, preventing several guests from entering.

Mr. Trudeau's office confirmed that neither he nor Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni were able to enter the Art Gallery of Ontario. International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen was escorted by police to find an unblocked entrance.

A spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, Stephanie Sayer, mentioned that officers were in contact with the Prime Minister's protection team. The Toronto police officers were ready to clear the way to allow Mr. Trudeau to enter.

She added that Toronto police did not recommend canceling the reception. She said the decision was made by the Prime Minister's Office.

Ms. Sayer said about 400 protesters gathered outside the museum. No one was injured and no arrests were made.

“We are reviewing the events of yesterday [Saturday] evening. And if it is established that illegal acts were committed, charges could be filed later,” she said.

During the demonstration, protesters criticized the federal government for its positions on the war in the Gaza Strip. They chanted slogans like “Trudeau, you’re a liar,” giving him the nickname “Genocide Justin.” They also insulted guests.

The museum's security service also prevented journalists from entering the building.

Liberal MP for Eglinton-Lawrence, Marco Mendicino, urged police to enforce the law. He accused the demonstrators of being anti-Semitic.

“The place wasn’t safe. And that was their goal. They didn’t want their compatriots to feel safe,” he wrote on the social network X (formerly Twitter).

Deborah Lyons, Canada's special envoy for preserving the memory of the Holocaust and combating anti-Semitism, told X that the cancellation of the reception was “a direct result of submission to the irrational demands of a noisy and uncontrollable cohort, which fuels his determination.”

With information from Alessia Passafiume in Toronto

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116