Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admonished a heckler at an event Friday night that marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The confrontation took place in downtown Toronto as Trudeau delivered a speech expressing solidarity with the Ukrainians as they continue to fend off the attack, according to CTV News.
“A year ago today, Ukrainians woke up to the horror of war in their…” Trudeau said before pausing to address a man shouting from the audience.
“Hey sir, I think Ukrainians could tell you a little bit about freedom and liberty.” Trudeau snapped. “So why don’t you settle down?”
“This is a night for them, not for you,” Trudeau continued while cheers broke out in the crowd. “This is a night for Ukrainians, not for you.”
“If you want to stand and cheer with Ukraine, do that,” he continued. “You want to wave that Ukrainian flag, please do. But let people celebrate that Ukraine is still standing and Canada stands with it.”
Russia began what it called a “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, in a conflict that has led to thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions of people.
Russia’s forces managed to seize roughly a quarter of Ukraine, but the Ukrainians have been able to fend off their advance with the support of a coalition of countries including the United States and Canada.
Canada’s government says it has committed billions of dollars worth of assistance to Ukraine in the past year. And during his remarks Friday, Trudeau said more than 167,000 Ukrainians have received refuge in Canada since the beginning of the conflict, per CBC News.
“We are all inspired by the courage and tenacity of those who stayed behind to defend Ukraine,” he said.
New Ipsos polling in Canada shows broad support for Ukraine in the conflict, but about half of respondents said their country cannot afford giving more financial assistance to Ukraine, according to Global News.
Still, Trudeau made clear on Friday that his administration does not plan to waver in its efforts to penalize Russia with sanctions and help sustain Ukraine with aid.
“The Government of Canada will stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,” Trudeau’s office said in a press release outlining the prime minister’s latest commitment to levy more sanctions against Russia and to send tanks and ammunition to the Ukrainian defenders.
Other world leaders delivered major speeches about the one-year-old conflict last week.
During his state-of-the nation address to Russia’s National Assembly on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine’s “Western masters” of starting the war. “We are using force to end it,” he added, signaling Moscow has no plans to back down.
President Joe Biden made a surprise visit last week to Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, after which he delivered a defiant speech in Warsaw, Poland. “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia. Never,” Biden said on Tuesday.
Biden also urged the Russian people to reject Putin’s claims that the West started the war in Ukraine and threatens Russia’s very existence.
“I speak once more to the people of Russia,” Biden said. “The United States and the nations of Europe do not seek to control or destroy Russia. The West was not plotting to attack Russia, as Putin said today. And millions of Russian citizens who only want to live in peace with their neighbors are not the enemy. This war was never a necessity. It’s a tragedy.”