Tempers flared and political ideologies clashed Tuesday afternoon outside the Sarnia Library's main branch. The reason? A visit from the controversial leader of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier.
A small group of demonstrators carrying signs with messages like “Your hate is not welcome here,” gathered outside the public building in anticipation of Bernier’s arrival.
While the party leader had already entered the building, that didn’t stop PPC supporters from engaging the protesters. One man said to protesters, “So you’re saying I’m not welcome here?”
Madeline Vrolyk, from the Sarnia Intersectional Feminist told CTV News, "We're here to stand up against the hate and hate speech that Maxime Bernier and members of his party like Brian Everaert have been spewing across their platform. We’re here to stand up against anti-immigration rhetoric, and racist comments, xenophobic, transphobic comments.”
Inside the room an all-ages crowd numbering well over one hundred came to hear Bernier’s message.
He was joined by the PPC candidate Brian Everaert, himself no stranger to controversy. The local candidate has been called out for posting what some say are racist Tweets.
Among other topics, the pair discussed immigration.
“There are economic immigrants. There's lots of immigrants that come here, go to work and continue to go work and contribute,” said Everaert. “But there are some other ones that we're bringing in that flood the low income housing market and everybody gets all upset about that. Well that's a fact.”
Bernier also discussed his views on free speech. “For us it's more important for us to have free speech in this country. And for us to have free speech, it is, it is something that you won’t like to hear. I don’t have the obligation to please you when I'm telling you what I believe in. And free speech - it is not hate speech.”