Singh harassment puts new spotlight on politicians’ safety

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s recent encounter with protesters at an Ontario election campaign, where he was verbally harassed, is casting a new focus on politicians’ safety, with Singh telling CTV News he is witnessing a level of anger he has never seen. before.

“What I’m realizing is true is that there’s more polarization, aggression and anger than I haven’t seen before,” he said while visiting a pro-choice counter-protest to the March for Life demonstrations on Parliament Hill. On thursday.

Singh received a barrage of insults earlier in the week when he walked out of a rally for Ontario NDP candidate Jen Deck, who is running in the Peterborough – Kawartha race.

Several protesters shouted profanity at the NDP leader and called him a “traitor” as he walked to his car.

Singh called the incident an “isolated” incident, but acknowledged that no person – elected or not – should feel insecure.

“People should be able to be angry about policies they feel strongly about. People should be able to express that, I think it’s a fundamental part of democracy, but no one should feel physically threatened or threatened when they’re a leader,” he said.

The Peterborough Police now investigating the event.

On his way to Thursday’s pro-choice rally, Singh was once again greeted by what appeared to be some “Freedom Train” protesters. Although the encounter was not as aggressive as the one he faced days earlier, the police intervened.

With a security detail close by, the NDP leader took a moment to reflect on the incidents and, more broadly, what this means for federal policy.

“I think of the message that is being sent to a lot of people out there who might consider politics and maybe not now, seeing this level of tension and aggression. And a lot of people who want to participate in politics are going to be discouraged and I think that’s very dangerous,” he said.

Asked whether additional security has been assigned to accompany Singh, a party spokesperson told CTVNews.ca it is not something they can publicly discuss.

Several politicians have spoken out about the harassment levied against them while in office.

In a statement released during the 2021 federal election, Conservative Representative Michelle Rempel Garner spoke about her experience with online and in-person harassment and death threats.

“Unfortunately, it is a very frequent occurrence for me and many of my colleagues, particularly women, of all political hues. And this increase in violent language, threats and abuse is certainly not limited to politics,” she wrote.

Prior to the arrival of the “Freedom Comvoy” protest in Ottawa in January, a senior official who oversees security for the House of Commons, Sgt. the homes of deputies living in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

While the threat did not appear to materialize, McDonell had advised that if lawmakers saw a demonstration at their personal residence or constituency office, they should not get involved and “go somewhere safe.”

So when anti-mandate and anti-government protesters camped out in the streets around Parliament Hill, security was beefed up for MPs passing the police station, including seeing the RCMP provide an escort service due to the high level of threat.

“When things started to get tense, we determined that the threat was greater for parliamentarians going to and from Parliament. additional security for the Senate,” RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency on April 26.

During a meeting of the House of Commons public safety committee on Thursday, Liberal MP Pam Damoff asked RCMP Deputy Commissioner Michael Duheme if more could be done to protect the safety of elected officials.

Duheme said it can be a “challenge” to navigate these threats, as some do not meet the threshold of an RCMP investigation.

“When we have a file related to potential threats, whether online, over the phone or directly, we engage with the Canadian Attorney’s Office to discuss the file and see if we’ve reached the threshold for those threats. It’s a challenge, I can say from the RCMP’s point of view,” he said.

The deputy commissioner, however, called Singh’s incident “unacceptable” and said the RCMP is “following up”.

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