A federal MP from Newfoundland and Labrador says she’s grateful she carries a government-issued panic button as threats and harassment directed at politicians rises in Canada.
St. John’s East MP Joanne Thompson is one of several members who have used the buttons, also called mobile duress alarms, in recent months. The buttons alert the Parliamentary Protective Service or local police of a safety concern when pressed.
While Thompson said she hasn’t had to use the button while working in St. John’s, she often carries it while in Ottawa.
“Early in the fall, not long after the election, I did have a worrying encounter with a constituent in the riding. And it was at that point I did see the panic button and I was quite grateful for that,” Thompson told CBC News Thursday.
“I was in Ottawa was when I used it the most often. You know, walking to work in the dark, returning in the dark. It was an extra precaution, so I’m grateful for that.”
Thompson said most of her concerns come from emails and social media, saying the rhetoric of others has intensified in recent months. Other MPs have shared stories of harassment, death threats and dangerous messages that caused them to use a panic button.
When asked about how safe she feels in her job, Thompson said she doesn’t allow herself to think that way.
“I don’t engage in back and forth on social media … and I don’t want to really travel the road where I begin to question my safety,” she said. “The people who are sending those messages, I think that’s what they want.”
Scott Matthews, an associate professor of Political Science at Memorial University, says increased use of the panic buttons is likely a response to how people are feeling about the current state of Canadian politics as tension rises between parties.
“People who like one party or feel close to one of the parties tend to feel very far away from and very negatively toward the other parties. This is especially the case between Liberals and Conservatives or between New Democrats and Conservatives. They really dislike each other in a way that isn’t the case in the past,” Matthews told CBC News.
Matthews says he’s seen that trend go through waves in recent decades, but adds the politics of COVID-19 have amplified discord in the short-term.
He believes it could continue when it comes to future elections, especially in areas where races are more contentious.
Even if we disagree on policy, there’s a lot that we have in common. A lot that we share.– Scott Matthews
Asked about what could be done to tackle the overarching issue of rising threats, Thompson said she believes it begins in the classroom.
“We have to create a shift in how we access news, how we question sources…and also how we speak to each other,” she said. “Respect matters, and personal and public safety matters. How we conduct ourselves has a significant role to play in achieving that.”
Matthews says things can be done by the politicians at the centre of the issue, especially regarding the use of hateful rhetoric.
It’s one thing to disagree, he said, but it’s another to suggest that disagreement creates enemies in politics.
“Panic buttons, and more generally kind of securing our political system against conflict, is not any kind of solution. That’s the sign of a problem, in fact,” he said.
“What we kind of need to be doing is finding ways to reduce the heated rhetoric and to depolarize our political system.… Even if we disagree on policy, there’s a lot that we have in common. A lot that we share.”
N.S. mass shooting: senior Mountie stands by allegations – CTV News
The senior Mountie who made allegations of political meddling in the investigation into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting defended his position to members of parliament Tuesday.
Nova Scotia RCMP Chief Supt. Darren Campbell maintains his conversation with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on April 28, 2020 — which has since spurred accusations of political interference in the police investigation of the mass shooting — happened as he detailed in his handwritten notes.
Campbell said he has a “distinct recollection of the content of that discussion,” and reiterated the commissioner said she’d made a promise to the government, tied to pending gun legislation.
Campbell testified before the House of Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee on Tuesday as part of ongoing meetings looking into allegations of political interference in the investigation of the 13-hour shooting rampage in 2020 in Portapique, N.S., which left 22 people dead.
Seven people were slated to appear before the committee Tuesday, including Campbell, Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Canada François Daigle, and Lia Scanlan, a strategic communications director.
Campbell and Scanlan have both made accusations of political interference, saying officials put pressure on police to release details about the gunman’s weapons following the shooting in an effort to push new gun legislation.
As part of the Mass Casualty Commission — an ongoing independent public inquiry created to examine the worst mass shooting in Canadian history — documents were released showing Campbell had handwritten notes from a meeting with Lucki in the days following the shooting. The notes indicated Lucki said she’d assured Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and the Prime Minister’s Office the RCMP would release information about the gunman’s firearms.
Campbell has said releasing that information would have jeopardized the investigation into the killings.
“It was never my intention to enter into a political or public disagreement or discussion as to what took place in that meeting, nor was my response to the meeting based on any personal issues with a commissioner or indeed any other individuals. Nor was it based on politics,” he said. “At the heart of the issue was a matter of principle and sound investigative best practices related to protecting the ongoing investigation, which at the time was in its early stages.”
Campbell added he never had any direct conversations with anyone from the government on the issue.
Blair and Lucki have both repeatedly denied pressuring the RCMP or interfering in the investigation. Lucki told the Public Safety and National Security Committee in July it was a ‘miscommunication’ during the meeting.
But Campbell is sticking by what he wrote following the meeting.
“The commissioner made me feel as if I was stupid and I didn’t seem to understand the importance of why this information was important to go out, information specific to the firearms as it was related to the legislation,” Campbell told MPs on Tuesday. “She didn’t seem to appreciate or recognize the importance of maintaining the integrity of an investigation.”
Scanlan, who was also on the April 28 call, said she interpreted the meeting — and Lucki’s alleged comments — in the same way Campbell did.
“It was a feeling of disgust,” Scanlan said. “I was embarrassed to be a part of it. I was embarrassed to be listening to it. And message received, I understood exactly what was being said.”
Meanwhile, earlier in Tuesday’s committee meeting, Canada’s deputy attorney general said that though lawyers and paralegals working for the Department of Justice are responsible for reviewing and delivering documents to the Mass Casualty Commission, the justice minister and ministerial staff had “no involvement whatsoever” in that process.
While Campbell said he turned over his notes relating to the investigation early on, they were not discovered by the commission until June 2022.
Daigle told the committee there were 2,400 pages worth of handwritten notes to be presented to the Mass Casualty Commission as part of its inquiry.
Thirty-five pages of those notes were withheld pending a review to examine whether some of the information was privileged. Of those, 13 were written by Campbell, and four detailed the April 28 conversation between Campbell and Lucki.
Daigle emphasized to the commission that Justice Minister David Lametti and ministerial staff were not involved in the process of withholding, reviewing or producing any documentation to the Mass Casualty Commission.
The RCMP has faced criticism for its lack of communication with the public during and after the shootings, and a 126-page document released by the commission in June states there were significant confusion and delays.
The Public Safety and National Security Committee is set to meet next at the end of September.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Rachel Aiello and The Canadian Press
Timeline: Liz Cheney's political career, from Republican scion to champion of democracy – CNN
(CNN)Tonight’s primary election is a crucial test for Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney. She has been one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest and most outspoken critics in the Republican Party. Today, the three-term conservative congresswoman faces multiple Republican opponents, including the Trump-endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman.
Politics Briefing: Federal government invests in protecting against quantum threats – The Globe and Mail
This morning, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino announced $675,000 to help keep Canadians safe from quantum threats, which he called “one of the most serious threats” to Canada’s cybersecurity. The funding will go to the non-profit organization Quantum-Safe Canada for a project to raise awareness and preparedness for such threats.
“The reality, which many Canadians likely don’t know, is that current infrastructure is vulnerable to the quantum technology of tomorrow,” Mr. Mendicino said at a press conference today.
Quantum threats refer to the capabilities of true quantum computers, which have yet to be realized, but could be a reality in around 10 years. Quantum computers would allow for the hacking of mass quantities of encrypted materials – and quickly. They “break the codes underpinning Internet security and the security of things like the ArriveCan app,” explained Michele Mosca, executive director of Quantum-Safe Canada and deputy director of the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing.
Quantum threats were also discussed by experts in April during hearings of the House standing committee on industry and technology, and whose testimony seemed to stun some MPs.
“Everything that’s been sent on the Internet since essentially the beginning of time will become an open book when a quantum computer is available,” Gilles Brassard, a professor in the department of computer science and operations research at Université de Montréal, told the committee. “Therefore, there’s no way to try to protect the past. The past is gone forever — forget about it. But we can still hope to protect the future.”
Asked what should be done to increase awareness, Mr. Brassard replied: “There needs to be education. There is no magic bullet. People are not sufficiently aware of the threat, and when they are told, they might panic.”
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Marsha McLeod, who is filling in for Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
LAFLAMME BLINDSIDED BY CTV – Lisa LaFlamme was let go as anchor of CTV National News after 35 years at the network in a decision that the veteran journalist said blindsided her and one that prompted shock from colleagues and viewers. Story here.
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THIS AND THAT
The House of Commons is not sitting again until Sept. 19. The Senate is to resume sitting on Sept. 20.
The Canadian Health Coalition released a statement criticizing the possibility of Canadian Blood Services partnering with a multinational company to pay Canadians to sell their plasma. “Once payment to Canadians for their plasma becomes the norm, recruitment of voluntary donors will decline, as experienced in European countries,” said health safety expert Dr. Michèle Brill-Edwards.
Parasite ecologist and University of Washington associate professor Chelsea Wood makes her case to The Decibel listeners for parasite conservation, and why they’re actually beautiful, complex forms of life. Episode here.
PRIME MINISTER’S DAY
The Prime Minister is holding private meetings in Outaouais, Que., and the National Capital Region.
Marcus Gee (The Globe and Mail) on the beauty and wonder of Canada, from the view of a recent cross-country odyssey: “It’s impossible to believe the sheer size and natural variety of this country. We’ve passed through the wild north shore of Lake Superior, crossing the countless rivers and streams that spill into that great inland sea; the vast boreal forest in northwest Ontario; the still vaster prairies, green and gold in their midsummer splendour; then the Rockies, where we hiked through an alpine meadow bursting with paintbrush and arctic lupine and along a famous gorge, Johnston Canyon, filled with roaring waterfalls.”
Sabine Nolke, Phil Calvert, Roman Waschuk, John Holmes, Louise Blais (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Ottawa’s centralized decision-making puts local embassy staff at risk: “Recent reports have revealed that on the cusp of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine earlier this year, plans were made to evacuate Canadian staff at the Canadian embassy in Kyiv. However, Ukrainian employees were not adequately informed of the dangers facing them and they haven’t been given sufficient assistance since. As former ambassadors, reading the reports hit a chord and did not entirely surprise us.”
Ali Mirzad (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on Canada’s need to deliver on its moral obligation to the persecuted Hazaras of Afghanistan: “It is true that the Liberal government cannot evacuate those trapped behind the Taliban’s walls. But it has also strategically ignored people it could actually help – the thousands of highly vulnerable and at-risk individuals, such as the Hazaras, who have fled but remain in limbo in refugee camps. While Canada continues to fail in delivering on its moral obligations, the persecuted Hazaras – who have historically been deprived of basic human rights – must continue to live each day in the midst of persecution and tragedy.”
Michael Bociurkiw (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Canada is falling short on its promises to Ukraine: “From the very start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has bungled its response to the crisis on almost every step of the way: from the inexplicable tardiness to send lethal weaponry to circumventing its own sanctions on Russia by approving the release of repaired turbines for that country’s Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.”
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