By Chris Gallagher
(Reuters) - Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand's appearance at a democracy forum on Friday was disrupted by a protester who stood before the stage holding a "STOP THE WAR" sign, prompting Anand to take a break in the middle of the programme when the protester refused to leave.
Anand was speaking about Canada's support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion at Toronto Metropolitan University when the protester, a woman wearing a winter cap and glasses, displayed the sign addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Anand and other Canadian ministers.
"STOP LYING. STOP SENDING WEAPONS. STOP NATO," read the sign. "PEACE IN UKRAINE."
"Can I see your sign please?" Anand asked the protester.
"Thank you for sharing that with me and I want to say that the aid that we have sent to Ukraine is aid that is in support of democracy, and sovereignty and rules-based international order - that same order that has kept you, everyone in this room, and our country, safe since the end of the Second World War," Anand said.
The protester, however, refused to leave and event host Martin Regg Cohn, a Toronto Star columnist, warned that she was getting to close to the minister's personal space.
"I'm going to take a break, Martin. Thank you so much," said a clearly uncomfortably Anand before she walked off the stage.
The defence minister, who announced a new military aid package for Ukraine earlier this month, retook the stage about 10 minutes later.
Canada has donated or committed about C$600 million in military equipment since Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24.
"Thank you for coming back," Cohn said.
"No problem. That's democracy," Anand replied.
(Reporting by Chris Gallagher in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)