Public Safety Minister examines security options for politicians


Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the federal government was examining its options to increase the safety of politicians, adding that the harassment many people face poses a threat to democracy. He says that as the security situation becomes “increasingly complex”, there is a need to “turn the temperature down”.

This follows video posted online over the weekend showing Deputy Premier Chrystia Freeland being harassed in Alberta. The video shows a man shouting profanity at the minister in the lobby of Grande Prairie, Alta., city hall before she and her staff entered the elevator.

Mendicino said the harassment and threats faced by politicians is “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 it’s a coincidence, and we need to be sure that people can contribute, that they can lend their voice to our politics.”

Politicians on both sides of the aisle were quick to come to Freeland’s defense and speak out against the harassment, with many also sharing their own experiences of threatening behavior.

Minister for Women and Gender Equality Marci Ien said while she agreed with Mendicino’s comments that the temperature needs to be lowered, it is “decidedly high” for women, indigenous peoples and people of color for a long time.

“It’s real,” Ien said. “It’s real. What happened to the Deputy Prime Minister is reprehensible but not surprising.

“I was a journalist. I am a black woman. And now I am a politician,” she also said. “And I have to tell you that was the number one thing that worried my family when I came forward because as a journalist the level of threats I received, as a black journalist the level of threats that I received on my life and on the life of my children, standing for election was not an easy decision to make.

Families, Children and Social Development Minister Karina Gould, who was at the press conference with Mendicino and Ien, echoed their statements and said that while she is grateful to have had the opportunity extra protection when she needed it, she’s “sad it’s something we need.”

“We’ve been very lucky in Canada, and I think we’ve been proud for many years that our politicians are generally very accessible,” Gould said. “It’s something I think we want to maintain. That being said, I think those of us who have been in politics for a number of years have also seen an increase in disturbing and threatening rhetoric – whether online or in person – we have seen public figures , especially who are women, who have suffered significant harassment, both as politicians and as journalists.

Freeland’s video raises many questions about whether Canadian politicians need more security. And it’s not a new problem – someone threw gravel at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a campaign event during the last federal election, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh was verbally harassed by protesters during an election campaign stop in Ontario this spring, and MPs who live in the Ottawa-Gatineau area were warned by a senior House of Commons security official of potential risks during the truck convoy.

Former Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Minister Bernadette Jordan told CTV News Channel on Monday that she needed 24-hour security at her home during part of her term as minister. .

She said that while many wonder why Canadian politicians don’t have security details, they should really ask themselves why they would need them in the first place.

“It’s really, really scary to see that 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 that’s something that really bothers me, because we want really good people to show up,” she also said. “It’s extremely important that we have dedicated people, who want to help their country, who want to help their communities, but then you treat them like that and you wonder why people would.”