Panic alarms for Canadian lawmakers as risks increase
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses party members at the Liberal Party campaign headquarters in Montreal, Canada
Canadian parliamentarians are being issued panic buttons to summon security or police in an emergency, officials said Tuesday as harassment, intimidation and threats of violence are on the rise.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, who announced the measure, has himself received online death threats in recent weeks in response to proposed legislation to curb handgun ownership.
“The situation is very concerning,” he said about “very negative and toxic rhetoric that we see online, which can then lead to violence” and has led to menacing confrontations.
“We need to have a space where we can have vigorous debates without seeing the level of vitriol and near physical confrontation and out and out incitement to violence and death threats,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, despite being surrounded by a security detail, had rocks thrown at him at an election rally in September 2021.
At several campaign stops, protesters that Trudeau has described as “practically foaming at the mouth, they were so mad at me” also shouted racial and misogynist slurs.
And Jagmeet Singh, leader of a small leftist party, faced an angry mob outside an event in May who shouted expletives at him, called him a “traitor” and wished him dead.
At a news conference the next day, he described being rattled by the incident, which he said was “among the worst experiences” he’d ever had and reflected a polarization in politics. On Tuesday, Mendicino said threats against politicians are multiplying, and described the panic buttons as another layer of security for MPs and their staff.