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Bowmanville business owner shocked at reactions to hosting Prime Minister Trudeau

Bowmanville small business targeted with hate after Trudeau visit, now packed with supportive customers. Owner shocked by online backlash.

A Bowmanville small business that was the target of hundreds of angry messages, hate posts, and poor reviews after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited there Thursday evening (Feb. 8) has been packed full of supportive customers the past two days, according to its owner.

Chris Aucoin of Brewer's Pantry, who hosted Trudeau at the invitation of Durham Liberal candidate Robert Rock, said he was shocked by the hate his business received, even while the visit was taking place.

When Brewer's Pantry put up a photo of Trudeau and Rock on its Facebook page Thursday, it immediately started receiving a flurry of angry responses.

"The owners are low-key demons just like the mega-demon they hosted last night," a person identified online as Kim Howes posted online, giving Brewer's Pantry a one-star review.

Another post, under the name Kendra Windsor, said "If I could give it a zero, I would."

A third, who had the name Bob Hutchings, wrote "Probably one of the worst decisions you ever made inviting JT."

Aucoin was stunned by the reactions.

"I'm not used to this hatred man, it's off the hook, it's ridiculous," Aucoin said in an interview Saturday evening.

"I'm excited, the prime minister's coming to my little bar. Hey, he's going to come and wish me well," said Aucoin about the short visit that was invitation-only for supporters of Rock, running in the March 4 by-election to fill the Durham riding federal seat.

Aucoin, 53, who insists, "I'm not political, I won't tell anyone who I'm voting for," said the volley of hatred he received late Thursday and overnight Friday has had a boomerang effect on his King Street East business, with supporters jamming the premises Friday and Saturday.

"Our place has been jammed the last two days with all my supporters, I can't move right now, I can barely stand, I've been on my feet all day," he said from his car as he headed home at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.

"It's off the charts, everybody wants to buy our T-shirts, they want to reserve, they want to come in, I'm meeting a lot of new people today. I'm getting a lot of new people who are saying, 'We're only here because of this crap, we're here to support you'," he said.

Whitby Liberal MP Ryan Turnbull, who attended the Thursday event, posted Saturday morning on X, formerly Twitter: "We will not stand for this! These business owners are good hardworking people who are passionate about craft beer. This is the kind of damage the Poillevre hate-fest is creating in our society. Please show your love and support for @BrewersPantry!!!"

Rock said the idea of Trudeau coming to Brewer's Pantry came from him and had nothing to do with Aucoin or the business.

"We were there because I love Chris's place. I'm a fan of craft beer, I love supporting small businesses. I could have decided to book a corporate chain or something like that for this party, but I wanted to make a difference for a small business and highlight a small business that I love and like going to myself, to introduce more people to that venue to see why I love that place and to come back. This has nothing to do with a political statement for Chris. I mean, I know Chris, we have good conversations. This has nothing to do with politics, this is a small business decision for him," Rock said.

As far as Aucoin is concerned, anyone is welcome to come to Brewer's Pantry, anytime.

"Not one of these keyboard warriors, or whatever you call them, has come into my store and said, 'Chris, you're an ass----,' nobody has come in and said that. If somebody came in and said they disagreed with what I did, I'd say, 'Yeah sure, you want a beer?'"

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