Trudeau says the government is not planning a new law to curb protests directed at politicians

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government has no plans to extend a law protecting healthcare professionals and patients from aggressive protests to cover politicians.

As the pandemic approaches its two-year mark, politicians, frontline health professionals and patients seeking care have found themselves plagued by anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests.

To counter this threat, the federal government worked with the opposition to pass Act C-3, which made it a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison for intimidating health professionals and patients seeking access to medical care. .

Trudeau – who himself was the target of threats and abuses on the campaign track during the recent federal election – said today that he has no plans now to expand the Bill C-3 to cover politicians.

“No one in the course of their work should face threats of violence, threats to their family. This applies to health professionals or to politicians or anyone else,” Trudeau said.

“We continue to engage in public safety, with police services, to ensure that we do everything we can to protect Canadians, but we have not yet looked at similar legislation.”

A spokesman for the RCMP told CBC News in an email that Mounties has “seen an increase in the number of incidents that either took place or was planned” at politicians’ “housing or constituency offices.”

These incidents appear to be directed at people at all levels of government. Earlier this month, protesters rallied over pandemic public health measures and vaccine mandates outside Calgary’s Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s home.

Anti-vaccine protesters gathered outside the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton in September. (Scott Neufeld / CBC)

“It’s an incredibly nervous and disturbing experience to look out your window and see people holding signs calling you a Nazi,” Gondek told CBC News.

“We’ve made these public places available so people can do that kind of protest or rally. You can’t do it at anyone’s home. It’s simply wrong. It’s inappropriate. It’s an intimidating tactic and you do not want good. people who stand up for the public. service if we allow this to continue. “

‘Harassment innocent neighbor’

On Tuesday, Calgary City Council approved a plan to pay for council members’ home security systems.

Three provincial politicians in Ontario – Prime Minister Doug Ford, Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Health Minister Christine Elliott – have been visited at home by protesters furious at shutdowns, school closures and vaccination programs.

When asked by CBC News whether the Ford government would consider a new law to protect public office holders, the Prime Minister’s Office avoided the question.

“These petty tactics have no bearing on this government’s decision to do the right thing to protect the people of Ontario,” the Prime Minister’s Office told CBC News.

“The only thing these people are doing is targeting and harassing innocent neighbors and family members who have nothing to do with government decision-making.”

Holds social media companies accountable

Former Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was abused and intimidated while in office. She said she wants to see the security budget for members of parliament increased to ensure that they are safe and that public life continues to attract good people.

“People who shout and scream… in your home, or when you’re just out, I think that’s the next level. That’s not why I went into politics,” she told CBC News. “I would say it was a very unattractive feature of politics, and that’s why I still speak out about it, because I want good people to go into politics.”

McKenna said she would like to see social media companies held accountable for the way they are sometimes used to organize aggressive protests.

“I’ve been very vocal about the need for social media companies to go up and take responsibility,” she said. “They have … created a vehicle that is now being used to promote hatred and in some ways expand the network of people who would normally be in their basement.”

Catherine McKenna’s campaign office was vandalized on October 24, 2019. The RCMP says it has seen an increase in incidents targeting politicians’ homes and constituency offices. (David Richard / CBC)

Gondek said she agrees with that proposal.

“Democracy will not survive if people feel threatened or intimidated into running,” she said.

“Those platforms should be held accountable for what happens. They should be held accountable and accountable for the method of communication that they have encouraged and laid out to encourage groups like this.”

Stephanie Carvin is an Associate Professor of International Relations at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. She said that while politicians may be reluctant to pass laws restricting public expression of opposition to government policies, they can intervene against social media platforms.

“Social media organizations … pump out a lot of disinformation, a lot of hatred, a lot of anger, encouraging gifts, to follow people around and try to catch them in breaking the rules,” she said.

“We have seen the Minister write to social media companies in December last year to try to encourage them to take a more ambitious approach to trying to curtail this rhetoric. But beyond this, it is not clear that much is being done. “

Carvin said she hopes the intimidating tactics aimed at public health measures will diminish as pandemic restrictions ease.

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