Calls for his death were hurled at Singh, on top of ‘traitor’ chants, by protesters during stop in Peterborough

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said that protesters yelled “horrible” things — including calls for his death — as he left a rally at the campaign office of Ontario NDP candidate Jen Deck in downtown Peterborough on Tuesday, and that this sort of polarization in politics must stop.

“Some folks were saying, ‘I hope you die,’ and things of that nature. A lot of aggression and violence in terms of the behaviour, demeanour,” Singh told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

“It was very aggressive, very violent. It was very tense.”

Among the protesters were some people who’ve been outspoken at rallies and online about their objects to COVID-19 health measures such as vaccines.

Protesters on the sidewalk yelled “Traitor!” and “Not welcome!” as Singh exited the office to a waiting SUV on George Street following the rally.

Singh told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday that “it would rank among the worst experience of his career.”

Some protesters shouted “traitor” at federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh Tuesday afternoon after he showed support for Peterborough-Kawartha NDP candidate Jen Deck at her campaign office on George Street in downtown Peterborough.

  • Some protesters shouted

He was not hurt in the incident.

He added he thinks it’s fine for people to protest any event he attends.

“But I just don’t think that this is what we want our politics to devolve into,” he said. “It shouldn’t be about these types of threats and that type of aggression.”

It’s good when people are “passionate” about their communities, Singh went on, and that they express anger about policy changes they believe will hurt them.

“That’s all a part of a good democracy. People should be able to express that,” he said.

“But obviously we don’t want people to be getting to the point of wishing death upon someone as a way to express their position on a matter of politics or a matter of policy or a law…. society like that.”

Social media videos emerged showing Singh exiting the rally — which he described as “a beautiful event” — to find people yelling at him that he’s a traitor to Canada.

Many used coarse language and gestures.

Peterborough Police weren’t called to the scene on Tuesday — they hadn’t been aware of Singh’s visit, but they said Wednesday they have reached to Singh.

“It’s disheartening to hear, as we know most residents are respectful and these few are not reflective of our community,” Acting Chief Tim Farquharson stated both via email and on Twitter.

Peterborough-Kawartha MP Michelle Ferreri told The Examiner that she has “great respect” for all candidates — and that she was glad Singh had visited her “beautiful” riding.

“I will always encourage respectful protest and I do not condone hate speech and violence in any form,” she stated in a message.

“The reality is many Canadians are deeply upset and hurt by the NDP-Liberal coalition and feel passionately about the current political climate — but name calling is not a solution. Get involved with the party you want to support, and help support the candidate you want to see win.”

Deck said her only concern on Tuesday had been that the protest might unnerve her campaign team members; Meanwhile, she said she found out later the campaign team had been worried the protest might unnerve their candidate.

Deck is running in the June 2 provincial election Peterborough-Kawartha against Progressive Conservative incumbent Dave Smith, Greg Dempsey (Liberal), Robert Gibson (Green Party), Tom Marazzo (Ontario Party), Rebecca Quinnell (New Blue Party) and Dylan Smith ( None of the Above Party).

On Wednesday Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued a statement of support for both Singh and Deck.

“So many times I’ve watched my friend Jagmeet Singh meet hate with grace — just like he and our Jen Deck did in Peterborough,” Horwath stated.

“But they shouldn’t have to. They deserve to live and work freely, without intimidation. Jen and Jagmeet, we’ve got your back.”

joelle.kovach@peterboroughdaily.com

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