Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bemoaned "games of misinformation" played in politics at a town hall in Regina Thursday after an audience member accused him of wanting to bring Shariah law to Canada and betraying the country for his "globalist partners" in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money.
After responding to a question from another guest about how Canada is "getting hosed" on oil prices because of his government's inability to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project finished, Trudeau gave the microphone to a woman in the audience who also had a question about oil.
At least at the start.
Watch: Trudeau responds to carbon tax question at town hall
"It's so hard to be patient here with all these lies," she said, sighing.
"Why are we buying oil from Saudi Arabia, Mr. Trudeau?" she continued, before jumping into two other topics.
"I just read a report from Ontario where you said Shariah law was compatible with Canadian values. I'm like, 'are you kidding me?'" she continued, as an audience member began heckling.
"Sorry, we're going to let her speak," Trudeau told the heckler.
The woman then asked Trudeau why he had "sold us out."
"You are not working for Canada. You are working for your globalist partners," she told him. "I wonder how much they're paying you to betray Canada. What do we do with traitors in Canada, Mr. Trudeau? We used to hang them. Hang them for treason, and you're doing that very same thing to us now. We know what you're doing."
Although her question on Saudi Arabian oil was broad, Trudeau answered it by touching on how some claim that Quebec has become "reliant" on oil from the Middle Eastern kingdom.
"That is false," he told her. "Quebec actually gets its oil from the United States and from Western Canada. The reversal of the [Enbridge] Line 9 pipeline actually means over the past three years Quebec has gotten three times as much oil from the oilsands as it ever had before."
You are not working for Canada. You are working for your globalist partners. Town hall audience member to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
"The games being played around misinformation for political, partisan reasons [are] out there, and I certainly don't blame you ma'am, because these so-called facts are floating around here. And that's one of the good things about having the opportunity to engage and ask blunt questions about things you may have seen or heard on the internet, and I'm happy to tell you that that is simply not true."
According to the National Bank of Canada, Quebec was getting the majority of its oil in 2012 from overseas. In 2017, it moved to relying primarily on North American sources such as Western Canada and the U.S.
"The province is now much less exposed to geopolitical risks and potential supply disruptions for the roughly 350,000 barrels/day required by its refineries," the bank said in its November 2018 report.
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Trudeau didn't answer the audience member's question entirely, however. Canada does import oil from Saudi Arabia. In 2017, about 12 per cent of the country's crude oil imports came from the kingdom, according to Natural Resources Canada.
Canada's relations with Saudi Arabia have been inflamed ever since the federal government urged it to "immediately release" detained human rights activists last year.
Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018
The move led Saudi Arabia to boot the Canadian ambassador from the country and call back its own representative, as well as thousands of Saudi students in Canada. The relationship got more strained with the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside his country's consulate in Istanbul.
This fracturing, however, hasn't done enough damage for Canada to cancel its oil imports from Saudi Arabia or sever a deal estimated to be worth $15 billion that will supply the kingdom with light armoured vehicles. In December, Trudeau said his government was looking for ways out of the contract.
Shariah law claim not true: Trudeau
After that, Trudeau arrived a the woman's mention of him allegedly saying "sharia law was compatible with Canadian values."
"I'm pleased to be able to tell you that that also is not something that I ever said," Trudeau told the audience member. "There is again misinformation out there that, as citizens, we should be skeptical [of], you should be skeptical of what any politician says, including me."
The prime minister urged her and others in the audience to try to differentiate between politicians who are telling the truth and those who "twist" it for political gain, especially as Canada moves closer to the fall federal election.
Accusations of Trudeau and his Liberal government working to move Canada to a Shariah system — or one that is adherent to the Islamic faith — have dogged the feds, mostly online, since the introduction of Motion 103 in 2017. The non-binding and largely symbolic motion, which condemned Islamophobia and all forms of religious discrimination, was tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid. She received death threats for introducing it.
The government was accused by some Conservative politicians, as well as right-wing websites and commentators, of stifling free speech with the motion and restricting criticism of Islam. The motion easily passed the House of Commons, but with the support of just two Tory MPs.
Be skeptical of what you read online: PM
Finally, Trudeau reached the audience member's accusation that he was selling Canada out to "globalist partners."
"On the third question around global government," he said, "that's something that we've seen also floating around in certain corners of the internet.
"I assume it refers to some of the commitments and some of the leadership that Canada has shown internationally around migration issues," he added, touting Canada's track record on immigration and Canadians' willingness, "for the most part," to open their country to newcomers.
I would encourage all Canadians as citizens to be thoughtful and skeptical about what they're reading on the internet. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
The claim that Trudeau and the federal government were giving away control of Canada reached new heights late last year when the government signed onto a non-legally-binding global UN agreement on migration. Conservative politicians and right-wing websites argued that the agreement gave foreign entities control over Canada's immigration system.
"The idea that we're somehow giving up sovereignty is, yet again, another thing that is designed to create fear and division and I would encourage all Canadians as citizens to be thoughtful and skeptical about what they're reading on the internet and what they actually hear from politicians whenever they engage in public discourse," Trudeau said.
Trudeau's town hall came a day after a similar event in Kamloops, B.C., where the PM was grilled for the recent arrests of pipeline protesters in the province and blasted as a "liar and a weak leader."