EDITORIAL – Trudeau comes out ahead when anti-pipeline hecklers throw mud

Trudeau at Wednesday night’s town hall. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

GIVE A HECKLER a microphone, and Justin Trudeau is at his best.

The prime minister’s two-day chock-full-of-events visit to Kamloops got underway as expected Wednesday morning (Jan. 9, 2018) with a couple of hundred protesters — many on one side or the other of the pipeline debate — making a lot of noise and waving placards outside a Liberal party fundraiser.

Inside, pipelines were barely mentioned when Trudeau spoke to a crowd half the size of the one out on the street. The real “action” came last night.

That’s when Trudeau hosted what’s become a bit of a trademark for him — a town-hall meeting that was, at times, funny and heartwarming and at others raucous.

Trudeau pauses for a few selfies after town hall meeting.

For an hour and a half, he answered questions from the 1,000-strong crowd ranging from softballs such as “what’s the best part of your day?” (answer: morning snuggles with his kids) to tougher ones like the disastrous India trip (answer: “It was a trip that happened”), and the economy, immigration and Donald Trump.

Surely, though, everybody in the room was waiting for the inevitable disruptions by indigenous anti-pipeline protesters and they soon started in. There was shouting, there were accusations.

These are people who demand respect but give only disrespect in return. They demand dialogue but they don’t listen. No government, no matter how much it gives, could ever make them happy.

But Trudeau handled them with patience and courtesy. At such times, he shows his mettle. He refuses to take the bait, he refuses to play who-can-yell-the-loudest.

These interruptions didn’t define the evening by an means; the majority was there to respectfully engage.

But they were a perfect opportunity for Trudeau to demonstrate once again that democracy is for everyone, even those who try to demean it.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (8039 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Trudeau comes out ahead when anti-pipeline hecklers throw mud

  1. I was at the Townhall meeting and your take on it was very accurate. I’m so glad you have the integeraty to tell it like it is. The screamers showed no respect to her elders and everyone in attendance.

  2. Thank you for this fair and factual account. The folks who are rude and downright nasty, yelling obscenities do not seem to want dialogue, they just want to stir up anger. Our PM still listens to them and tries to respond to any who will listen. Our government is doing the best possible job in a very difficult time with those wishing to destroy democracy – like Ford, Sheer et al, believing that loud, raucous speech, without any concern for truth will win the day. I think the majoriy of Canadians are smarter than that. I sure hope so! I want to move forward with concern for all rather than a fascist country such as the US is becoming.

  3. Just in Truth, he is best for Canada. Troubles in the world that few fully understand, he faces for canadians (that means you and me). Thank You, Mr. Trudeau.

  4. What a day! The security, the hecklers and the yellow jackets…I swear the true yellow jackets have one up from the ones who were out on the sidewalks. But I understand…if short of understanding then crassy placards and nonsense slogans are supposed to deliver the strong message of displeasure…well, maybe.
    Justin is no Obama, (the oratory qualities of the latter have no match among the current crop of leaders) but he handles himself and the toughness of the currrent predicament quite well, in my opinion. The food served was varied and actually quite delectable and there was enough genuine folks in the crowd of supporters to make for an enjoyable luncheon. It was definitely worth the price of admission!

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