WATCH: Trudeau says protesting to demand policy change is 'worrisome'

Trudeau said that he did not want to set any "bad precedents" by "legitimizing" the Freedom Convoy.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that protests should not be used to change public policy, although he provided an example of when it is okay to protest to change public policy.

The prime minister made the comments while being questioned at the Emergencies Act inquiry. Trudeau said that he did not want to set any "bad precedents" by "legitimizing" the Freedom Convoy, which paralyzed much of the Ottawa city core for weeks in January and February of this year.

Trudeau said that the protestors' demands were "non-starters," saying that those at the capital wanted to overturn election results.

"Some of their asks are non-starters, like overturning the results of the election we just had. In terms of responding to their demands or legitimizing them by engaging, I'm worried about setting a precedent that setting a blockade on Wellington street can lead to a change of public policy. People need to be heard, but we need to get that balance right," said the prime minister.

"I don't want to set any bad precedents," he added.

Trudeau said that protests should be used to get "messages out there," but using protests to demand changes of public policy is something he considers "worrisome." He did say, however, that people could protest things like "shutting down safe injection sites or something."

"I think we have a robust, functioning democracy. Protests, public protests are an important part of making sure we're getting messages out there and Canadians are getting messages out there and highlighting how the feel on various issues. Using protests to demand changes of public policy is something that I think is worrisome.

"Although," he added, "if you're out protesting that the government is shutting down safe injection sites or something, you are asking for changes in public policy, but there is a difference between occupations and 'saying we're not going until this is changed," in a way that is massively disrupting, and potentially dangerous, versus just saying 'we're protesting because we want public policy to change and we're trying to convince people and get enough of them that politicians will listen and say i'm going to lose votes unless I change this.' That's the usual way protests can be effective in our democracies."

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