Chrystia Freeland: Prime Minister calls for unity against bullying

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday called on political leaders to take a united stand against threats of violence and intimidation, days after his assistant was confronted in Alberta by a man who repeatedly shouted profanities at her. and called her a traitor.

Video circulating online over the weekend shows Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland arriving at City Hall in Grande Prairie, Alta., on Friday, then confronting the man as she approached and walked into a elevator.

Trudeau addressed the incident during an announcement in Ottawa on funding for an action plan to support LGBTQ communities. He said what Freeland faced was not isolated and was increasingly seen by people in public life, especially women and minorities.

« Threats, violence, intimidation of any kind are always unacceptable and this kind of cowardly behavior threatens and undermines our democracy and our values, and the openness and respect on which Canada was built, » said Trudeau.

The incident has prompted current and former politicians from all walks of life to speak out against the incident and speak out against the harassment faced by public figures.

The identity of the man in the video has circulated widely online, but efforts by The Canadian Press to reach him have so far been unsuccessful.

Trudeau called the confrontation a « backlash » of the kind that has been growing on social media for many years, where every time a woman speaks out on social media, she becomes a victim of harassment and toxicity that reaches a point where his voice and his right to free speech are diminished.

« As leaders we need to speak out against this and take a united stand against this because no matter who you are, who you love, the color of your skin, the way you pray, where you are from, your gender, you deserve respect, » he said. « You deserve to live in peace without fear of threats of violence. »

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek agreed that what happened in Freeland is not isolated. In a series of Twitter posts on Sunday, she recounted numerous incidents in which she said she was scared.

In one incident during a campaign in 2017, she said she received a phone call from a man who told her he knew where she lived and that she should « be careful ».

« He then confronted me in person in a public debate. He was about 6’2″ and 200 pounds, » Gondek wrote.

« In an open space full of people, he leaned over me to hiss that he had made this call and that he would make sure I lost the election. He then sat in the front row eyeing the entire event. »

Gondek also said protesters came to her home in January to voice grievances about public health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said they were standing in her driveway, but she didn’t realize they were there until she opened the garage door, sending them rushing down the street.

Gondek said her mother was with her at the time, adding that they quickly closed the door and went back inside.

“My mom always nervously stares down the driveway whenever we have to drive somewhere,” Gondek wrote.

Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton said in a video posted online Saturday that the incident with Freeland was « a disgusting display of hate and abuse. » She expressed her gratitude to city staff who « calmly defused the situation and acted in a very professional manner despite the stressful circumstances. »

« The confrontation at City Hall captured on video does not reflect the welcoming spirit our region is known for. We don’t need to agree on every issue to treat each other with basic respect. “, said Clayton.

« No one should be subjected to abusive behavior. »

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 28, 2022.


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