The RCMP is investigating after a man verbally assaulted Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland during a visit to Alberta last week in connection with a worsening spate of abuse of women in public office.
Sergeant Caroline Duval of the National Police confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that investigators are investigating the incident, adding that the force “takes threats against officers seriously”.
“Physical actions and expressions made in person or online can have significant repercussions and violate the law. When the threshold for a criminal charge is reached, the RCMP or appropriate police may arrest and bring charges,” Duval said in the statement.
“If the criminal threshold is not met, the RCMP reviews the threats and derogatory comments from an intelligence perspective. The RCMP has a highly-skilled intelligence function dedicated to protective policing. Generally, only in the event that an investigation leads to a criminal charge being made, would the RCMP confirm its investigation, the nature of the charges brought and the identity of the individual(s) involved.”
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She added that Canadian lawmakers can receive RCMP protection “as needed,” but the force could not comment on whether Freeland would receive such protection.
A video clip of the incident was posted to social media on Friday, showing a man approaching Freeland while she was entering an elevator at City Hall in Grande Prairie, Alta. He hurled obscenities at her and called her a “traitor,” while a woman joined in and told Freeland, “You don’t belong here.”
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Freeland was born and raised in Alberta and still has family there.
“What happened yesterday was wrong,” Freeland said in a statement posted to her Twitter account. “Nobody, anywhere, should have to put up with threats and intimidation.”
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Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino on Monday called the harassment of those in public office a “threat to democracy” and said the growing number of incidents is particularly affecting women and people with racial backgrounds.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the attack on Freeland “cowardly” and was asked on Tuesday what he thinks is driving the increasing frequency of death threats and other threats against public figures.
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“We’ve been through a lot as a country and as a world,” he said, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about the impact of climate change, shifting global economies and the mental health challenges of the opioid crisis as some of the factors at play to play.
“Many people are under a lot of pressure and unfortunately there are no easy solutions to all of these challenges we are facing. It will take hard work to listen to each other [and] Government orders are being reinforced,” Trudeau continued.
He said that anyone in a position of power has a responsibility not to stir up anger.
“It’s time for people to allay fears and anger and respond with a positive vision for the future,” he said. “Because people are hurt.”
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https://globalnews.ca/news/9094638/rcmp-investigation-freeland-verbal-attack/ RCMP investigates verbal attack on Chrystia Freeland, Alberta