Prime minister weighs in on video of racist, anti-mask rant at Toronto supermarket
TORONTO -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to social media on Friday to thank the employees of a Mississauga supermarket after they were confronted by an angry customer who refused to wear a mask and made racist comments towards staff, calling the incident “hard to watch.”
The incident occurred at a T&T Supermarket on July 5 and was captured on video and posted to YouTube, where it has been watched more than 380,000 times.
In the nearly four-minute long video, a man and a woman who are not wearing masks are seen in the aisle of a store surrounded by staff. The man then appears to go on a rant about how masks make people ill and he shouldn’t have to wear one.
At one point, the man yells at an Asian man, saying “go back to China where you came from and take your coronavirus back to Wuhan."
Experts have been saying for months that masks or face coverings protect individuals from spreading micro droplets and can help curb the spread of COVID-19, a disease that has infected more than 36,000 people in Ontario and killed more than 2,700.
It is now mandatory to wear masks inside public places across most of the Greater Toronto Area.
A spokesperson for T&T told CTV News Toronto that the man in the video was arguing with another customer and store colleagues for several minutes prior to what was seen on the video.
“When politely asked to wear a mask, which is store policy, the man initially refused because he said it was ineffective. He then became irate and aggressive, claiming to have allergies and then proceeded to claim he and his friend both had asthma,” T&T spokesperson Tina Lee said in a statement.
“Due to the customer’s behaviour, we stand by the store manager’s decision to ask the customer to leave.”
The store noted that the man’s accusations were unacceptable, and that they have a number of protocols set in place for customers with medical conditions who may not be able to wear masks for health reasons.
Video of racist rant is ‘hard to watch,’ prime minister says
The incident has since garnered the attention of numerous politicians as well as Peel Regional Police, who say that once they saw the video they sent an officer to the supermarket to “proactively take a report.”
Police are now investigating the incident as hate-motivated and have identified a suspect. They are urging him to seek counsel and turn himself in.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau posted on Twitter Friday that the video of the racist rant is “hard to watch.” He went on to thank the employees who “took a stand against ignorance and hatred.”
“We all have a responsibility to call out racism and discrimination - so call it out whenever and wherever you see it,” Trudeau said.
New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh also commented on the incident, calling for an end to hateful speech.
“We have a collective responsibility to deny any space to this type of hateful, divisive and racist speech,” he said. “And let’s be clear, the consensus of health-care experts is that wearing a mask helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask and don’t be a racist.”