HomeNews1Justin Trudeau: Harassment against Canadian public figures posed a ‘threat to democracy’

Justin Trudeau: Harassment against Canadian public figures posed a ‘threat to democracy’

Justin Trudeau: Harassment against Canadian public figures posed a ‘threat to democracy’

The growing frequency of harassment against Canadian public figures poses a “threat to democracy” that needs to be taken seriously, the country’s public safety minister is warning.

In a press conference on Monday morning, federal cabinet ministers condemned the verbal attack on Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland that took place in Alberta last Friday, and said the incident is the latest in a worrying trend of abuse and hatred against Canadians in public roles.

“We are seeing more and more incidents, particularly involving women, involving racialized people, involving Indigenous peoples. And I don’t think this is a coincidence,” said Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

“The threats that we see don’t only impact the individuals, their families and their teams. It represents a threat to our democracy.”

A video clip of the incident was posted on social media on Friday, and showed a man approaching Freeland while she walked into an elevator at city hall in Grande Prairie, Alta. He hurled profanities at it, and called her a “traitor,” while a woman joined in and told Freeland “you don’t belong here.”

The couple are told to leave by others in the building and eventually exit out to the parking lot.

Freeland was born and raised in Peace River, Alberta, and still has family there.

“What happened yesterday was wrong. Nobody, anywhere, should have to put up with threats and intimidation,” Freeland wrote.

“But the Alberta I know is filled with kind and welcoming people, and I’m grateful for the warm welcome I’ve received from so many people in Edmonton, Grande Prairie and Peace River over the past few days. One unpleasant incident yesterday doesn’t change that.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attack “cowardly” on the weekend and has said it demonstrates the increased targeting of people — primarily women and racialized Canadians — who speak out or work in public roles such as politics, journalism or other positions of responsibility in public life.

Conservative leadership candidate Jean Charest called it “gross intimidation” and “dangerous behaviour” in a tweet. Former Liberal cabinet minister Catherine McKenna called it “beyond the pale.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney referred to the incident as “reprehensible” and Conservative MP Dan Albas said, “What our Deputy PM experienced yesterday has no place here in Canada.”

In June, Mendicino revealed that Canadian members of Parliament will be getting panic buttons amid a rise in death threats, intimidation and verbal harassment.

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould on Monday pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as a period of trauma that has profoundly impacted Canadian society.

“We have collectively gone through a very traumatic experience in the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years of a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of hardship. A lot of loss,” Gould said.

“There have been ideas that are spreading that are taking hold that are very detrimental and very concerning. And we need to find a way to engage with people who find it acceptable to use that kind of language and that kind of behaviour, and walk them back a bit. I don’t know exactly how we do that but it’s something I think as political leaders we have to be very mindful of.”

Gould added: “I think we have a lot of work to do coming out of these very difficult two years.”

Reported by Global News on Aug 29, 2022.