Canada deputy PM Freeland abused in Alberta, Trudeau calls it part of a trend

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned an abusive verbal attack on his deputy prime minister and finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, which he described as an "extremely disturbing harassment" that was not an isolated incident.

"We are seeing increasingly people in public life and people in positions of responsibility, particularly women, racialized Canadians, people of minority or different community groups, being targeted almost because of the increasing strength of your voices," Trudeau said in an address on Sunday.

"We are seeing a backlash.... We have to ask ourselves what kind of country we are, what kind of country we want to be."

In the video of the incident shared on Twitter late on Friday, Freeland was approaching the elevator of a city hall building in Grande Prairie, Alberta, when one man shouted at her.

"What the fuck are you doing in Alberta?" the man said as Freeland walked toward and into the elevator. He also called her a "traitor" and a "fucking bitch." The video had hundreds of thousands of views.

Freeland was born in Alberta and was on a tour of the province to meet with officials, businesses and workers.

She acknowledged the incident in a tweet on Saturday. "What happened yesterday was wrong. Nobody, anywhere, should have to put up with threats and intimidation," Freeland wrote on Twitter.

Canadian politicians across the political spectrum also condemned the verbal attack.

The incident was the latest among a series of verbal attacks against women in public life in Canada, including activists and journalists.

A group of reporters for weeks have been publicly sharing a series of private and anonymous emails that they have received and which contain targeted threats of violence and sexual assault, along with racist and misogynistic language.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell)