Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is downplaying an ugly moment Monday in which protesters struck him with gravel. "It's no big deal," Trudeau told reporters after acknowledging he got struck on the shoulder while boarding his campaign bus in London, Ontario, reports the CBC. Trudeau, who called a snap election last month, has been regularly encountering protesters opposed to government mandates on vaccines and masks, notes the BBC. In fact, he canceled a rally last month because security officials deemed demonstrators who had gathered in advance to be a threat. “There is a small fringe element in this country that is angry, that doesn’t believe in science,” Trudeau said earlier Monday in a speech, per the Washington Post.
“Canadians, the vast majority of Canadians, are not represented by them,” he added. “And I know [they] will not allow those voices … those anti-vaxxer mobs, to dictate how this country gets through this pandemic.” The gravel incident took place as Trudeau boarded a bus surrounded by protesters. Afterward, he likened it to an incident in 2016 when a woman threw pumpkin seeds at him. Two members of the media traveling with Trudeau also were hit by the small stones, but no injuries were reported. Erin O'Toole, leader of the Conservative Party hoping to unseat Trudeau, condemned the "disgusting" incident. “Political violence is never justified and our media must be free from intimidation, harassment and violence," he said. Nearly 70% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, one of the highest rates in the world. (Read more Justin Trudeau stories.)