Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was flanked by a number of RCMP officers in tactical gear at a campaign event in Toronto on Sunday, but said the extra security will not change how he campaigns as Canada’s federal election looms.
Trudeau was also forced to don a bulletproof vest at a campaign event in Mississauga Saturday evening due to an undisclosed security threat. Prepared remarks had indicated that Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, was to introduce the Liberal leader, however, she did not appear or take the stage during the rally.
“My first concern was for the safety of my family and for all the Canadians in the room,” Trudeau told reporters when asked about the incident at a campaign event on Sunday, but added the incident “will not change at all” how he campaigns.
Trudeau continued, saying he is as motivated as he has ever been to “get out and connect with people every chance I get so people really understand what is at stake in the choice in this election.”
Liberal officials did not reveal the nature of the threat, but sources later confirmed to the Canadian Press that Trudeau wore a suit jacket during Saturday’s rally rather than his usual rolled-up sleeves and loosened tie, because he was wearing a protective vest.
The vest was noticeable in photos taken during the rally.
When asked by reporters why the event on Saturday went ahead despite the threat and a more than 90 minute delay, Trudeau said he took the advice of the RCMP.
In an email to the Canadian Press, RCMP spokeswoman Stephanie Dumoulin told the Canadian Press: “for security reasons, we do not comment on security measures given to the prime minister.”
While the event in Liberal candidate Ahmed Hussen’s riding of York South-Weston on Sunday saw an increased security presence, Trudeau did not appear to be wearing on that occasion.
In a tweet on Saturday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said it was “very upsetting” to hear that Trudeau had to wear a bulletproof vest.
“Threats of violence against any political leaders have absolutely no place in our democracy,” he wrote. “Thank you to the RCMP for taking these threats seriously and keeping us safe.”
Speaking to reporters in B.C. on Sunday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said it is “totally wrong” that Trudeau is facing threats and has had to increase security.
“I want to let Canadians know you can have all sorts of opinions and it’s OK to disagree, but there should never be fear for any leader from any party to feel like there’s any threat to themselves,” he said. “I want to let Mr. Trudeau know directly that I’m sorry that he has to ramp up his security and that it shouldn’t be that way.”
Singh said he trusts the work of the RCMP, and that he, himself, has felt “safe and good” while on the campaign trail.
-With files from the Canadian Press
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