Chrystia Freeland: Deputy Prime Minister responds to harassment

Deputy Premier Chrystia Freeland has responded to an incident of verbal harassment in Alberta after video of the encounter was widely shared on social media.

The video, which was shared on Twitter, shows a man and two women waiting in the lobby of City Hall in Grande Prairie, Alberta, when Freeland and his staff enter the building and approach the elevator .

“Christia! shouts the man.

« Yes! » Freeland responds.

What follows is a barrage of insults and swear words from the man, calling Freeland a « traitor » and « f—ing b—- » as she enters the elevator.

« Get the f— out of this province! » the man can be heard shouting, while another woman says to him, « You don’t belong here. »

Freeland responded to the incident on Saturday.

« What happened yesterday was wrong, » she said in a statement posted on Twitter. « No one, anywhere should have to put up with threats and intimidation. »

Freeland, who represents a riding in downtown Toronto, was born in Peace River, Alberta. and attended high school in Edmonton.

« I’m proud to be from Alberta, » she said. « I will keep coming back because Alberta is my home. »

A longer video of the incident, which appeared to have originally been posted on TikTok, shows the man then being escorted out of the building.

According to her official itinerary, Freeland had traveled to Grande Prairie on Friday to meet with local farmers and skilled artisans. She was at city hall to meet with the city’s mayor, Jackie Clayton.

Current and former politicians from various parties have taken to social media to show their support for Freeland and speak out against the verbal harassment.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough tweeted she was « disgusted by what my brilliant colleague @cafreeland faced yesterday », while Defense Minister Anita Anand said she was « appalled by the threats and intimidation » directed at Freeland.

Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino also condemned the incident.

« This type of behavior must be denounced and condemned by everyone, regardless of their political affiliation », he said in a tweet.

Across the aisle, the Conservative MP from British Columbia Dan Albas called the video « alarming » and said this type of behavior « has no place here in Canada. » Conservative leadership candidate Jean Charest called him « dangerous behavior » and « gross bullying ».

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also called the harassment « reprehensible ».

« If you disagree with a politician, exercise your right to protest by all means. But threatening shouting and physical intimidation cross the line, » he added. Kenney said in a tweet.

Heather McPhereson, an NDP MP from Edmonton, also voiced support for Freelandtweeting, « I don’t always agree with decisions made by your government, but on behalf of the vast majority of Albertans who are kind, generous and decent, you are welcome here. »

Other than the prime minister, federal cabinet ministers are generally not given security details, except in rare circumstances. In 2019, then-Environment Minister Catherine McKenna revealed she needed to get security information after receiving repeated threats and vitriolic messages, both online and in person.

With files from The Canadian Press


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