John Tory comments on Trump supporters in Toronto after Capitol Hill riots
The world is still reeling from Wednesday's shocking riots at Capitol Hill in Washington, where pro-Donald Trump demonstrators broke into the U.S. legislative building to stop the electoral vote certification debate that was taking place.
Thousands erupted into violence during the disturbing incident, in which members of Congress were evacuated, dozens of police officers were injured and four people died, including a protester who was shot in the neck while trying to breach rooms in the Capitol itself.
North of the border, meanwhile, Trump supporters rallied through the streets of Toronto in a small motorcade, showing that despite being in Canada, we are not immune to the same mindsets that turned what Toronto Mayor John Tory has called "a beacon and global centre of democracy" into a scene of utter chaos yesterday.
my fellow canadians, stop being ignorant and saying "at least we're not in america!" when there are literal trump rallies happening in toronto, vancouver, calgary, all across the country.— jernie (@jerniebee_) January 7, 2021
open your eyes, it's happening to us right now. canada is no better. https://t.co/y72dEM7LuM
Reflecting on the prior day's events on Thursday morning, Tory commented on how much leadership plays into such incidents, and how Trump provoked his followers into taking such drastic measures.
"The most disturbing part aside from the hooliganism of it all and the loss of life is the fact that your job as a leader is to bring people together and when you see signs of division and polarization coming about to try and calm it, not to whip it up," Tory said in an interview with Breakfast Television on Thursday morning.
"Mr. Trump, it would appear certainly from every indication, was actually whipping it up for a long time... it really is, I think the most appropriate word is, sad [and] we must not let that kind of division and polarization that seems to have infected the U.S. get in here. But that, to me, comes back to leadership."
Tory continued on about the importance of working together and sorting out differences rather than engaging in such "ideologically-driven skirmishes" that end up being completely destructive rather than constructive to progress.
He also praised what he considered peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstrations of thousands of people in the city over spring and summer 2020.
But, more recent protests in Toronto, including those in support of Trump, have been more concerning.
Yes! The same thing up here in Cda. I hear so many smug Cdns indicate how proud they are to be Cdn right now as if the right wing aren’t here. Yet there Trump convoys driving thru Toronto y’day.— Jacky Hood (@PigsCanFlyHigh1) January 7, 2021
"We saw a little sign of it with the whole Adamson BBQ thing. We saw people showing up who wanted to be on the verge of almost violent behaviour about a restaurant being open or closed under rules that were very clear," Tory said.
"We just can't let that sort of thing happen. Fine, if you have a different point of view, demonstrate and make it known, but you've got to stop with the polarization."
Adamson BBQ, as we all remember, became ground zero for anti-mask and anti-lockdown demonstrators when it illegally opened for maskless indoor and outdoor dining for multiple days in November against provincial lockdown orders.
A fundraiser later launched for the Etobicoke restaurant's proprietor, Adam Skelly, ended up amassing more than $337,000, showing how many in the city supported his violation of the government's pandemic rules.
If you're also under the impression that this is an "American" problem there was literally a 2 block long motorcade of Trump Supporters in Toronto, white supremacy is rampant here too. This is a global issue.— Holiday Legs 🌲 (@Tentaclewoof) January 7, 2021
But moving forward, the city is prepared for further demonstrations of any kind, even potentially violent ones, Tory said.
"There's that line that you have to draw between being ready, on the one hand, and not having people feel oppressed in the context of living their life or expressing their views We try to strike that here and I think we do a pretty good job of that," he added.
"I would say yes, we're ready, but hopefully you don't have to be ready and there's nothing to be ready for, but we are."
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