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Former Minister Mendicino asked to explain why the government targeted truckers but not attackers of Jewish community

The MP was attending an event at the Adath Israel synagogue in Toronto when he was asked why the government took no action against anti-Israel protesters.

Former Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino faced questions at a recent event about his government’s lack of action against anti-Israel protesters calling for violence compared to the way it cracked down on the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.

“You want to protest, protest. Don’t provoke your neighbours and your citizens,” he said while attending a meeting in a synagogue. “You want to advocate, by all means advocate, but do not antagonize. That is where we draw the boundary.”

Mr. Mendicino, a Liberal MP representing Eglinton–Lawrence, was attending an event at the Adath Israel synagogue in Toronto on Jan. 11, along with Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Ya’ara Saks, Tory MP Melissa Lantsman, and other local politicians.

Moderator Jamie Gutfreund, who works for media outlet CP24, told Mr. Mendicino there have been calls for a violent uprising against Jews worldwide, in relation to protests and attacks following Hamas’s Oct. 7 raid against Israel and the country’s subsequent retaliation.

“Yet it seems as though that the federal government … [is] taking a much different approach than when you were Public Safety Minister when the trucker convoy was happening,” said Mr. Gutfreund, who was relaying questions from the Jewish community.

Hundreds of trucks descended on Ottawa in early winter 2022 to protest against vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions. The protest was cleared after the government invoked the Emergencies Act.

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Mr. Gutfreund said there had been “harassment” of some citizens during the Ottawa event, but that the protesters “weren’t calling for the death of a specific community.” There was nonetheless a crackdown with the freezing of bank accounts, he said.

Protests against Israel are not taking place 24/7 in Toronto, the moderator added, but he noted they happen every week.

Mr. Mendicino, who visited Israel after the attacks and has been outspoken in his support for the country, said that Canadians should debate all policies but a line should not be crossed.

“When you cross from proper debating into the incitement of hatred and violence, when you take up arms, when you start to attack your fellow neighbours, that is where we have to draw the line,” said the former minister, who was removed from cabinet on July 26.

This comment drew protests from members of the crowd. Members of the Jewish community in Toronto have been calling for police to take action against anti-Israel protesters.

Jewish businesses have also been targeted by attacks and vandalism. Toronto Police Service (TPS) is investigating a Jan. 3 fire at the International Delicatessen Foods as a hate-motivated crime.
TPS Chief Myron Demkiw apologized earlier this week after an officer handed out coffee to pro-Palestinian protesters blocking Avenue Road bridge over Highway 401.
Mr. Mendicino had said such acts would “embolden” protesters to continue blocking traffic. “Laws exist to prevent this. They need to be enforced!” he said in a post on X.
TPS has taken a stronger stance since, arresting and charging a man with “public incitement of hatred” after he allegedly marched in the streets carrying the flag of an unspecified listed terrorist entity.

In the same statement announcing the arrest, Chief Demkiw said protests on the Avenue Road overpass would not be allowed, with TPS saying they “pose a public safety threat that has left many in the surrounding Jewish community feeling intimidated.”

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