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More Alberta politicians are talking about the hateful behavior displayed late last week at Grand Prairie Town Hall.
On Friday, a group of individuals looking to forcefully inform the Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland their views on her work, and the federal government found themselves in the foyer of City Hall at the same time as she was living.
“What are you doing in Alberta, traitor!” A bearded man in shorts and a sleeveless shirt shouted. “You and-in b-!”
He and his colleagues quickly advanced toward the deputy prime minister, chasing them toward the elevator.
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“Get out of this county!” cried Vreeland, who was born in the nearby Peace River, Alta.
In a video that went viral on social media, the man stands a full head and shoulders taller than Freeland.
“You don’t belong here,” said a woman accompanying Freeland.
City of Grande Prairie employees escorted the man out of City Hall after the elevator doors closed.
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This kind of intimidation is familiar to Calgary councilman Courtney Benner, who in her first term was represented by ward 11 in that city.
“He’s always there. He’s definitely been experienced in the campaign trail. I’ve definitely had the experience since being elected,” she told Global News.
Benner said she was physically intimidated by a body statue previously.
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“Since women are traditionally smaller individuals and men are traditionally taller – this is a tactic often used against female politicians.”
On Sunday afternoon, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Jundyk posted a thread on Twitter detailing some of her experiences, saying the crash more than 700 km away was not isolated.
She, like many other Canadian female politicians, said on social media over the weekend, “It causes a lot of pain. And fear.
“During the 2017 civil election, I got a phone call from a man telling me he knew where I lived and I should watch out. Then he confronted me in person at a public debate. Just under 6 feet tall, he was about 6 feet, 2 and 200 pounds,” wrote Gundyk. .
“In an open area full of people, he loomed over me to know he made that call and that he’d make sure I lost the election. Then he sat in the front row gasping at me throughout the event. I split the fear, straightened my head and crushed the debate.”
Gundyk was also hit by groups of protesters in front of her private home, not in front of Calgary Town Hall, as previous protests had been. She declined to be interviewed on Monday, but her subject outlined other threats to her safety in a variety of places around town.
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In a social media video on Sunday, Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton thanked city employees for their professionalism and calmly calmed the situation. She also acknowledged that the deputy prime minister had been visiting an area “where there is a great deal of divergence of views” about the performance of the federal government.
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“During her time here, I have been able to see many individuals express their concerns about federal policies in a very constructive and respectful manner,” Clayton said.
“This is the Great Prairie I know and love, and we will not let the actions of a few define who we are as a community or who we are as a nation. What has always made this country strong is the ability to respect the different opinions, viewpoints, and beliefs that every Canadian holds.”
“It’s clear that there are people who have real and legitimate fears and frustrations,” said Laurie Williams, associate professor at Mount Royal University. “And participating in a discussion of these concerns and questions is entirely appropriate.
“But just yelling at people, naming them – in cases of racist assaults, telling them to ‘go home’ – it in no way means anything except venting anger and doing it inappropriately.”
Lisa Young, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary, said there has been an escalation of vitriol towards politicians and female politicians, despite the long partisanship in Alberta politics. She recalled stories of threats to Rachel Notley and Shannon Phillips when the National Democratic Party formed the Alberta government, increasing security around them.
“There is something about the rise of women in politics, from a more diverse political group of political actors that brought some of this. But also, I think social media played a role,” Young told Ted Henley at 770 CHQR.
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Williams said she would not be surprised to see more security details with female politicians as a result of the verbal assault of the number two in the Canadian leadership in northern Alberta.
And while a chorus of politicians, leaders and ordinary citizens called for vile behaviour, Williams said a certain group should be more vocal about events like Friday.
“I absolutely think that the leaders who have fueled this kind of anger and this poison against the politicians who disagree with them — some of the politicians who are involved in this, the media personalities who are involved in this kind of thing — have a chance here to change the tone, to act differently, to make the decision to go down the road. rather than engaging in attacks that increase polarization and generate more anger,” Williams said.
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Like other countries around the world, Young said, Canada is experiencing a resurgence of right-wing populism that has benefited from the discontent of “political elites” and grievances.
“We have Pierre Poilifri who is willing to rally some of these populist sentiments to support his leadership campaign,” Young said. And Danielle Smith, who leads the drive-thru says, ‘Look, if there are federal laws that we don’t like, Alberta doesn’t have to live with it. This is a bit like saying, “Society has rules that I don’t like. You don’t need to respect those rules.”
Saturday evening, Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta Jared Wesley tweeted: “Have we not heard anything from (Pierre) Poliver and (Daniel) Smith about the attack on Minister Freeland?
By that time, Prime Minister Jason Kenney, Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and several leading candidates for Conservative Canada and Alberta United Conservatives had taken to social media to denounce the verbal assault.
CHEK News asked Poilievre About the incident during a visit to Vancouver Island on Sunday. The Chinese Communist Party leader who is hoping for this said it was “totally unacceptable” and “we have to put an end to it”. He pointed out that he had to hire private security for his wife and family.
“That’s not how we treat people,” Benner said. “These are adult bullies who transcend societal norms and are outside of acceptable behavior and use intimidation tactics.”
Benner is one of five women on Calgary’s 15-seat City Council.
The former Banff mayor said the video that came out of the Grand Prairie was “probably the worst case scenario I’ve ever seen”.
“The term I hear often is a civilization crisis,” Karen Sorensen, the Alberta senator, told Global News.
“I certainly don’t have the answers, but I firmly believe that unless we demand better from ourselves and others and reaffirm basic social norms, democracy, and social niceties, it will continue to happen.”
A January 2022 survey commissioned by Equal Voice found that threats to physical safety were a barrier for young women entering politics, with nearly two-thirds of the 2,095 female respondents between the ages of 18 and 30 concerned about their physical safety. Three-quarters of those surveyed were concerned about online harassment as a politician.
“It’s online, it’s in person, and it’s a real problem for the future of politics in Canada, because we need more women to be involved in politics and we want them to feel safe and respected while they’re doing their work,” Equal Voice, Equal Voice, told Global News.
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The mayor of Calgary received a warning about allowing the behavior to continue.
Condemning the verbal assault on Freeland, Gundyk wrote: “All the stories that journalists and politicians share should show you that it will happen again.” “Next time it may lead to injury or death.”
— With files from Breanna Karsten-Smith and Adam MacVicar, Global News
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