Public safety minister considering security options for politicians after Freeland harassment
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says the federal government is looking at its options when it comes to increasing security for politicians, adding the harassment many face represents a threat to democracy. He says that as the security situation becomes “more and more complex,” there’s a need to “bring the temperature down.”
This comes following a video posted online this weekend of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland being harassed in Alberta. The video shows a man yelling profanities at the minister in the lobby of Grande Prairie, Alta.’s city hall, before she and her staff enter the elevator.
Mendicino said the harassment and threats faced by politicians are “not a partisan issue.”
“We are seeing more incidents, particularly involving women, involving racialized Canadians, and involving Indigenous peoples,” he said. “I don’t believe that is a coincidence, and we need to be sure that people can contribute, that they can lend their voices to our politics.”
Politicians from both sides of the aisle were quick to come to Freeland’s defence and denounce the harassment, with many also sharing their own experiences of threatening behaviour.
Minister of Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien said while she agrees with Mendicino’s comments that the temperature needs to be turned down, it’s been “decidedly high” for women, Indigenous people, and people of colour for a long time.
“This is real,” Ien said. “This is real. What happened to the deputy prime minister was reprehensible but not surprising.”
“I was a journalist. I’m a Black woman. And now I’m a politician,” she also said. “And I have to tell you, it was the number one thing that my family was worried about when I ran because as a journalist, the level of threats that I got, as a Black journalist, the level of threats that I got on my life and on the lives of my children, to run for office was not a small decision to make.”
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould, who was at the news conference with Mendicino and Ien, echoed their statements, and said while she’s grateful to have had the opportunity for added protection when she needed it, she’s “sad that it’s something we need.”
“We’ve been very lucky in Canada, and I think we’ve prided ourselves for many years on the fact that our politicians are generally very accessible,” Gould said. “That’s something that I think we want to maintain. That being said, I think those of us that have been in politics for a number of years now have also seen an increase in disturbing and threatening rhetoric — whether it be online or whether it be in person — we’ve seen public figures, particularly that are female, that have experienced significant harassment, both as politicians but also as journalists.”
The video of Freeland has many questioning whether Canadian politicians need an increased security detail. And this is not a new issue — someone threw gravel at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign event during the most recent federal election, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was verbally harassed by protestors at an Ontario election campaign stop this spring, and MPs who live in the Ottawa-Gatineau region were warned by a top security official for the House of Commons about potential risks during the trucker convoy.
Former Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan told CTV News Channel Monday she needed around-the-clock security at her home during some of her time as a cabinet minister.
She said while many are wondering why Canadian politicians don’t have security details, they should really be asking why they would need them in the first place.
“It’s really very, very scary to see this kind of attitude, that it’s OK to harass someone like that, that it’s OK to threaten someone without repercussions,” Jordan said.
“It makes you wonder: why run for politics? And this is something that really bothers me, because we want really good people to run,” she also said. “It’s extremely important that we have people who are dedicated, who want to help their country, who want to help their communities, but then you treat them like this and you wonder why people would do it.”
This article was first reported by CTV News