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This isn’t normal.
“Yes, as a politician, you get tons of emails, texts, social media posts that are rude, obnoxious, political, putting you down, they don’t like you, they don’t like your politics, they don’t like your leader — that’s one thing,” Zann says. She points to the Nazi propaganda, the veiled warnings, the direct promises to do her harm: “I take that as a threat.”
In the first half of 2020, the RCMP has compiled files on 130 threats to the prime minister and his cabinet. That’s about a 30 per cent increase from the same time frame last year. I’ve spoken to more than a dozen staffers and politicians from different parties who say the threats are growing — disproportionately for women and racialized cabinet ministers, but also for backbench and opposition MPs. Women face rape threats. Black politicians are told they’ll be lynched. Queer people in politics are warned that they’ll be gay bashed.
“People, I’m telling you, feel empowered to behave this way,” Zann says.
In recent days, Ottawa police have begun an investigation into someone who screamed obscenities at a staffer for Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna. For weeks, that man has uploaded videos of himself trying to get into Liberal party offices, and harassing CBC journalists. He has also voiced support online for Corey Hurren, and tweeted that the best solution for a Liberal is a shotgun.
Members of Parliament have paid for their own private security. Politicians have started changing their route to work, to shake stalkers. “I’ve had to change all the doors in my house, get extra locks, get a security system,” Zann says. “It has cost me money out of my own pocket.”