Wed, 06 Jul 2022

Canadian Lawmakers Issued Panic Buttons as Threats Rise

Voice of America
22 Jun 2022, 10:36 GMT+10

Owatta - Canadian parliamentarians are being issued panic buttons to summon security or police in an emergency, officials said Tuesday as harassment, intimidation and threats of violence are on the rise.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, who announced the measure, has himself received online death threats in recent weeks in response to proposed legislation to curb handgun ownership.

'The situation is very concerning,' he said of the 'very negative and toxic rhetoric that we see online, which can then lead to violence' and has led to menacing confrontations.

'We need to have a space where we can have vigorous debates without seeing the level of vitriol and near physical confrontation and out and out incitement to violence and death threats,' he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, despite being surrounded by a security detail, had rocks thrown at him at an election rally last September.

At several campaign stops, protesters whom Trudeau has described as 'practically foaming at the mouth, they were so mad at me' also shouted racial and misogynist slurs.

And Jagmeet Singh, the leader of a small leftist party, faced an angry mob outside an event last month who shouted expletives at him, called him a traitor and wished him dead.

At a news conference the next day, he said it was 'among the worst experiences' he'd ever had and reflected a polarization in politics.

On Tuesday, Mendicino said threats against politicians are multiplying and described the panic buttons - called mobile duress alarms - as another layer of security for MPs and their staff.

The devices can be used across Canada to alert police.

Parliament's sergeant-at-arms has also offered training to lawmakers and their staff on how to de-escalate situations that risk turning violent.

'We know unfortunately that there's a significant amount of anger and frustration out there directed at government, directed at officials,' Trudeau said Tuesday.

'We need to make sure that anyone who steps up to serve their community at any level of politics is safe.'

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