1709455531 Pro Palestinian demonstration disrupts Giorgia Meloni39s visit to Toronto

Pro-Palestinian demonstration disrupts Giorgia Meloni's visit to Toronto

A reception that was supposed to cap off the day of meetings between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Italian counterpart was abruptly canceled Saturday after protesters blocked the entrances to the Art Gallery of Ontario and prevented guests from entering.

Mr. Trudeau's office confirmed that neither he nor Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Miloni were able to enter the Art Gallery of Ontario, which was briefly closed as protesters chanted pro-Palestinian slogans.

Among the guests was the Minister for International Development, Ahmed Hussen, who was unable to enter the gallery through the main entrance. He walked two blocks further, escorted by police, to find another entrance.

A person holds a Palestinian flag in front of police officers.

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Pro-Palestinian protesters blocked the entrance to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Cole Burston

The disruption ended an otherwise cordial day of meetings in Toronto, where Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Meloni said they had agreed on a roadmap to strengthen ties between Canada and Italy.

The two leaders issued a joint statement saying their agreement will further deepen their countries' political, economic and strategic ties by outlining plans for cooperation over the next three to five years in priority areas.

These include energy security and the transition to a sustainable energy future, climate change and biodiversity, migration, sustainable economic growth and research and innovation, including the development of artificial intelligence.

These two G7 members will take stock of the progress made at a meeting next June in Italy.

Mr. Trudeau spoke to reporters before the start of the closed session and praised Ms. Meloni's leadership as Italy chaired this year's G7 summit. He said he looks forward to working with her to prepare for the 2025 summit, which will be held in Canada.

Two countries agree on many points

Mr. Trudeau said Canada and Italy agree on many issues and have a very close and growing economic relationship.

Profile of a person with a Canadian flag in the background.

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During her meeting with Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni discussed certain G7 priorities, including artificial intelligence, the role of the Indo-Pacific region and respect for the international order.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Cole Burston

Last year, Mr. Trudeau criticized Italy's position on 2SLGBTQ+ issues during a meeting with Ms. Meloni at the G7 summit. He was reacting to his government's decision to limit the recognition of parental rights in families with same-sex parents only to the biological parent.

Ms. Meloni rejected that criticism, saying Mr. Trudeau was a victim of fake news.

On Saturday, Ms. Meloni discussed some G7 priorities, including artificial intelligence, the role of the Indo-Pacific and respect for the international order.

She also mentioned the situation in Ukraine and this very difficult crisis in the Middle East, where she believes it is important to avoid escalation.

“We are starting a new year of relations by trying to strengthen our cooperation and I think that there are very many issues on which we can do this,” argued Ms. Meloni.