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Catherine McKenna now Needs Security

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Catherine McKenna

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says she was recently walking outside a movie theatre with her children when a car slowly pulled to a stop beside them.

The driver rolled down his window and then he let fly.

“F–k you, Climate Barbie,” he shouted, as she tried to back away from his car and get her kids away from him.

Much has been written about the online abuse and threatening behaviour politicians — especially female politicians — and others in the public eye face every day. But McKenna says as the heat around climate change continues to grow, that abuse is going from anonymous online vitriol to terrifying in-person verbal assaults.

The incident at the movie theatre is just one of several times her kids have been with her when someone in public began to yell at her. She has been called the C-word, a traitor, an enemy and a “communist piece of garbage.” Her family’s safety has been threatened more than once. Some people have wished she and her children will get fatal diseases. She has received sexualized messages so hateful they could be enough to make even the hardest of hearts skip a beat.

“Tick Tock, Barbie B—h,” one read.

“You’re a stain on this country and I hope you rot in hell,” said another.

The threats have become real enough that McKenna sometimes now requires a security detail, a level of protection even cabinet ministers don’t usually get.

“There are places, yes, that I have to have security now and I don’t think that’s a great situation,” she said. “I’m someone who is trying to do my job, live my life, and talk and engage with people, and it makes it harder. I’m not going to let this stop me but I wish it would stop.”

McKenna would not elaborate on the security needs, so as not to reveal when she has less protection. She said the online abuse in particular has been going on since she was elected, but that in recent months it has gotten much worse in person.

“The challenges, the increases of this, is worrying for everyone,” she said.

A worrying trend

McKenna is not alone in fearing for her safety. Tzeporah Berman, international program co-ordinator for Stand.Earth, said earlier this summer that she has received death threats and was physically assaulted in the Edmonton airport by a man angry about her campaign to close down the oil sands.

Catherine Abreu, the executive director of Climate Action Network, Canada, said the issue is a constant source of frustration and fear for environmentalists.

“We talk about it every single day,” said Abreu. “There are many people in my community who feel they are under threat.”

Abreu and Berman both point to politicians as stoking the fires. Abreu said U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetorical attacks have emboldened people who now feel it is perfectly acceptable to insult, abuse and threaten people they disagree with.

Berman said the threats and attacks against her worsened after Alberta Premier Jason Kenney launched his “war room,” a $30-million project to discredit people he says are using foreign funding to undermine Canada’s energy sector. Berman and others are being named by the Alberta government and called enemies for opposing the oil industry.

 

Anti-pipeline activist Tzeporah Berman speaking to reporters in 2018. (CBC)

 

“Since Kenney announced his $30 million warroom to attack environmental advocates & this poster of me was held up at his press conference I have had death threats, misogynist & sexual attacks on social media,” she tweeted in June. “This is what that kind of fear mongering & hate does.”

An attached image shows a sheet of paper with a photo of her speaking into a bullhorn in front of a banner reading “NO TARSANDS PIPELINE.” Below the photo are the words “Tzeporah Berman: Enemy of the oilsands.” Kenney didn’t hold it up but a supporter introducing him at a pro-oilsands news conference in June did.

A spokeswoman for Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said “in no way does our government condone any form of abuse, verbal or otherwise, towards private citizens or elected officials.”

Samantha Peck said the “Fight Back Strategy” is in development but the war room itself has not yet been established and hasn’t issued any publications naming any specific individuals.

The United Conservative Party has named at least one individual in a fundraising pitch to supporters.

Emma Jackson, who works from Climate Justice Edmonton, shared the letter on Aug. 30, which named her as a “radical anti-oil and gas activist.”

Berman’s tweet was itself met with a torrent of abuse, many of which called her a liar or said she deserved everything she got. A handful of people said while they disagreed vehemently with Berman’s activities, the threats and abuse were not acceptable. They, too, were then attacked.

‘Climate Barbie’

McKenna said she doesn’t call this sort of thing out often because she fears giving abusers attention. In 2017, she did stop to call foul when Conservative MP Gerry Ritz referred to her on Twitter as “Climate Barbie.”

The insult was coined by the right-wing website, The Rebel, shortly after McKenna was named environment minister and has been used in hundreds, if not thousands, of insults hurled her direction.

Ritz, a former agriculture minister who has since resigned from Parliament, deleted his tweet and apologized for the slur when it was met with outrage.

McKenna said the fact that climate-change deniers have now verbally attacked Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, proves just how low some will go to discredit their opponents.

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was among them, accusing Thunberg in a tweet of being mentally unstable. He later said he wasn’t trying to insult her, just show that she was a pawn being used by adults to put an unassailable face on their lies that climate change is a human-caused emergency.

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Singh says Liberals must demonstrate willingness to work together

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh meets with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on Nov. 14, 2019.

Jagmeet Singh said Thursday he is hopeful the New Democrats can find common ground with the Liberals in the minority Parliament and suggested the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois are less than ideal dance partners for the Trudeau government.

Mr. Singh, who leads a caucus of 24 MPs, said Thursday he will look for indicators in the Dec. 5 Throne Speech that demonstrate a willingness to work together.

The commitments he’s looking for include a single-payer universal pharmacare system, national dental care, a commitment to fighting the climate crisis in a “meaningful way” and a pledge to drop an appeal of a human-rights tribunal decision on Indigenous children, Mr. Singh said.

“What I want to make very clear is the Liberal government has to work with parties to pass bills,” Mr. Singh told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday morning.

“There’s no question about that.”

The Prime Minister, who was reduced from a majority government to a minority in the Oct. 21 election, has been meeting with other party leaders this week on Parliament Hill to assess what each is looking for in this Parliament and where he may see eye-to-eye with them.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants New Democrats to support his minority government, the Liberals will have to move toward universal pharmacare and dental coverage and respect other NDP priorities as well. Trudeau is meeting each opposition leader in turn as he begins planning how to hold on to power without command of the House of Commons. The Canadian Press

He met with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Tuesday and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet on Wednesday.

In his meeting, Mr. Scheer urged Mr. Trudeau to study the implementation of an east-west energy corridor to address national-unity challenges and also called for tax cuts, the cancellation of new environmental-assessment rules and funding for Toronto subway expansions.

Mr. Blanchet said Wednesday he looks forward to collaborating with the Liberal minority on issues that affect Quebeckers, including more financial help for the elderly and a compensation plan for dairy farmers. He also warned he would not shy away from opposing measures that go against Quebec’s interests or infringe on provincial autonomy.

Canadians expect parties to work together to serve them according to their priorities, Mr. Trudeau said Thursday.

“We’re very much focused on working with all parties in the House,” he said.

Mr. Trudeau also indicated areas where the Liberals see shared priorities with the NDP including the fight against climate change, the need to tackle affordability issues such as housing, growing the economy in ways that help everyone, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and improving the health-care system.

Mr. Singh said Thursday he hopes the Prime Minister will choose to work closely with the New Democrats on national, progressive programs and cited pharmacare as an example.

The Conservatives are not interested in rolling out such a program, Mr. Singh said, adding that the Bloc doesn’t have an interest in delivering plans that benefit Canadians across the country because they are “not a national party.”

Mr. Singh said Mr. Trudeau will have to work with him if he has any interest in delivering national, progressive programs.

“And if he’s going to work with me, it [pharmacare] is going to be universal,” he said. “It is going to be public.”

Mr. Singh said he is willing to be constructive with Mr. Trudeau, but vowed that he won’t do this “blindly” to avoid another election. The NDP is deeply in debt.

He said he is ready to head back to the polls, adding he will work for the nearly three million Canadians who voted for the New Democrats.

“But by no means does that mean I’m beholden in any way to working with the Liberals,” he said. “I have a job which is to fight for Canadians.”

“I am hoping that they are prepared to work with us.”

Mr. Singh has left the door open to voting against the Throne Speech, but he hasn’t identified specific issues that would prompt such a move.

By Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

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Cloverdale pastor found guilty on one sex charge

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A Cloverdale pastor has been found guilty on one count of sexual assault, while his wife has been acquitted on all counts.

Samuel Emerson was a pastor at Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church for eight years.

Emerson was being tried on five counts of sexual assault, two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual interference.


What did church know about B.C. pastor accused of sexual assault?

His wife Madelaine was charged with two counts of sexual assault, one count touching a young person for a sexual purpose and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

A publication ban was in effect to protect the identities of the victims.

“I was kind of overwhelmed by it all, I know everybody involved, and its the first time to hear a lot of the circumstances,” said Emerson’s father, Randy, the church’s senior pastor.

“So, it’s been a long two and a half years for us, and lots of hurt all the way around.”

Many members of the church were in attendance at the Surrey court room where the verdict was delivered, some of them expressing disappointment with the result.

Emerson will be sentenced at a later date, and remains free from custody on court-ordered conditions.

The offences were alleged to have occurred between 2015 and 2017.

Randy Emerson told Global News in a previous interview the incidents were alleged to have taken place off church grounds.

Randy also previously told Global News that Samuel resigned his position upon his arrest.

He said the family’s five children had been living with their grandparents after their parents’ arrest.

With files from Catherine Urquhart

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Ron MacLean ponders his future

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He’s been called Judas. Pontius Pilate. Brute, too.

But while Ron MacLean has heard these references, he said there is only one truth when it comes to how he feels about Donald S. Cherry.

“I love Don,” he said.

You can tell from his voice these have not been easy days for MacLean. He’s worrying about the well-being of his close friend and the criticism he has faced for his response after last week’s controversial Coach’s Corner broadcast.

They have, after all, been partners for 35-years on Coach’s Corner until Remembrance Day when Cherry was fired by Sportsnet for saying “you people who come here” should wear poppies to honour the troops who provided this way of life and freedom.

MacLean took to Twitter, as well as appearing on the Sunday night Hometown Hockey broadcast, to apologize.

But he had no idea he would never appear with Cherry on Coach’s Corner again.

“It all happened so fast. I wish we could have had another day,” he said.

And now he is faced with trying to figure out what comes next?

He spent Wednesday at CBC headquarters meeting with Sportsnet brass and producers to work on just that.

“I am doing some thinking,” MacLean said Wednesday. “I am taking these days to sort and order what I will say Saturday.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how Hockey Night in Canada is going to handle that first intermission. It’s a massive hole to fill.

My suggestion is for everybody to stop trying to sink this ship.

I am hoping saner heads will prevail and we can get Coach’s Corner back where it belongs.

Forgive Don for a minor faux pas. Forgive Ron for his reactions in what was clearly a difficult time.

Make amends to those who feel hurt by what they think Cherry was trying to say.

And then get back to entertaining the audience on Saturday night.

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