Politicians condemn harassment of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland

·2 min read

Current and former politicians from across the Canadian political spectrum are condemning an incident in Alberta during which a man appeared to verbally accost Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland on Friday.

A 14-second video posted on Twitter by an account that voices opposition to COVID-19 public health measures shows Freeland entering an elevator while a large man approaches her, hurling profanities and calling her a "traitor."

The man looms in front of the open elevator doors and tells Freeland to get out of Alberta,while a woman tells her, "you don't belong here."

Freeland had posted photos on social media Friday showing her meeting Jackie Clayton, the mayor of Grand Prairie, Alta., northwest of Edmonton.

Former deputy Conservative leader Lisa Raitt posted on Twitter saying she felt a knot in her stomach when she watched the video, worried that the man would follow Freeland into the elevator, and former Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna replied saying she felt the same way.

McKenna, who had received additional security for certain events during her time in office, called on "all party leaders" to hold a joint press conference to condemn what she described as an "attack" on Freeland and commit to enhanced security for elected officials.

Cabinet ministers do not generally receive protection from the RCMP, but it can be arranged if circumstances warrant. A number of politicians and pundits took to social media after the incident in Grand Prairie to question whether additional security should become more common.

Michelle Rempel Garner, a former federal cabinet minister in Stephen Harper's government and a current Conservative Member of Parliament from Calgary, also replied to Raitt, describing "the hot, sick feeling of being trapped ... of not knowing where to run if it escalates, of being confronted by someone hostile and physically larger than you."

Many Liberal MPs have voiced support for Freeland, including Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, who tweeted that harassment, intimidation and threatening behaviour must be "condemned by everyone, regardless of political affiliation."

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also posted on Twitter saying the "verbal harassment and threats" directed at Freeland were "reprehensible."

"You know that our governments have a lot of serious disagreements. But you're always more than welcome to come and visit us here in the province where you grew up (and) your family lives," Kenney wrote to Freeland.

Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec who is vying to become the federal Conservative leader, condemned the incident as "gross intimidation." He issued a tweet calling it "dangerous behaviour" that "cannot be normalized."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2022.

The Canadian Press