‘Happy Stampede’: PM mobbed by fans at Stampede events

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent Sunday in Calgary, where he was surrounded by mostly friendly crowds as he attended a pancake breakfast, toured the Stampede grounds and spoke at a liberal fundraiser.

The Stampede, an annual 10-day celebration of the cowboy lifestyle, has become an irresistible magnet for politicians of all political persuasions.

Trudeau, decked out in a white cowboy hat, red plaid shirt and jeans, is no exception and has made regular appearances year after year.

“This is a time to get together and celebrate being able to get together once again. It’s great to see you all in person. Happy stampede,” Trudeau said early Sunday as he attended a breakfast hosted by George Chahal, the only Liberal MP in Calgary.

Trudeau briefly referenced the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and global events before spending time making pancakes.

“It’s been a tough couple of years where people have had to come together and pull through and we really saw the strength of the community,” he said.

“We face more challenges with the war in Ukraine and with the global inflation crisis, but at the same time we see it, over and over again, Canadians step up and are there for each other.”

A lone protester, carrying a Canadian flag, shouted “traitor” several times before being quietly escorted out of the parking lot and across the street.

Trudeau was harassed as he slowly made his way through the crowd, posing for photographs, holding small children and shaking hands with them.

Similar crowds gathered around him on the Stampede grounds, where he met with Mayor Jyoti Gondek and various Stampede officials.

Gondek said it was great to talk to Trudeau about Stampede and their shared responsibility.

“We had a great conversation about the vibe that he feels in the city, his words, so it’s really good to make sure that the federal government knows that Calgary is in good shape,” he said.

Trudeau stopped at one of the stables, where he spoke with some heavy horse owners before walking through the crowds on the grounds, where many young families attended a Family Day event with free admission before 11 a.m.

People stopped him and asked for selfies as he talked to them about how nice it was to be back at the Stampede.

“It’s been too long since we’ve been able to do this, so it’s good to get out there and be with people again,” Calgarian Chris McLachlan said after speaking with Trudeau.

Osman Hussein, attending his first Stampede, said he felt like he had a celebrity moment.

“It’s great. It’s great to see. I didn’t expect it in Calgary, not in Stampede,” he said.

Others took a moment to thank him.

“Ukrainians have thanked him in Ukrainian, Syrians have thanked him, Afghans have thanked him,” said Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, who is an MP from Edmonton.

“We had five women come up and say, ‘Thank you, you saved my house.’ We’ve had people come in and talk about saving their businesses.”

At least one man was heard to say, “Oh, it’s Justin Trudeau, I want to punch him in the face,” before walking away. Another woman said that Trudeau was not her favorite, but it was great that she took the time to visit Stampede.

One man could be heard yelling, “Prime Minister Trudeau, you are a tyrant” and “You are a failure.”

After more than an hour of walking through the crowd, Trudeau was taken by his security team to a Liberal Party fundraiser at a brewery in northeast Calgary, where he spoke to a friendly crowd.

He used the opportunity to rally the troops by talking about a federal child care agreement, providing pandemic support from Ottawa, and defending democracy in places like Ukraine.

Trudeau said the government will continue to “have people’s backs” as inflation rises and supply chain problems continue.

The prime minister’s visit came on the heels of the federal Conservative barbecue in Calgary on Saturday night, where four of the five leadership candidates had a chance to impress supporters before the party elects a leader in September.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 10, 2022.

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