Trudeau decries threats against politicians, journalists after deputy faces harassment

Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was the subject of a foul-mouthed verbal attack at a government building in Alberta. SCREENSHOT/PHOTO: TWITTER, AFP

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday decried a rise in aggressive behaviour and threats against politicians and journalists - notably women - after his number two faced intimidation and harassment.

Video of the incident showed a diminutive Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland being accosted by the unidentified man at a government building in Grande Prairie, Alberta on Saturday.

She had no security with her, and as she escaped into a nearby elevator, he shouted expletives at her and called her a "traitor."

Federal police are investigating.

Trudeau deplored what he described as a sudden rise in threats against public figures, in particular "women in positions of power, whether they're parliamentarians or journalists."

"This is something that should worry us deeply as a democracy," he told a news conference.

Trudeau and his liberal government claim to pursue feminist policies.

He expressed concern that political discourse is degenerating into "aggressive bullying" and "hate-filled rants" and called for political leaders of all stripes to reject Canada becoming a "toxic, polarized country."

He also lamented the need to step up security for politicians.

"Part of the strength of our democracy is being able to see the minister of defense going (grocery) shopping on the weekend... We need to be able to have that connection that we've always prided ourselves in," he said.

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