Van­dal strikes McKenna’s of­fice

To­ries join Lib­eral MP con­demn­ing vul­gar, hate­ful lan­guage in slur

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - MIKE BLANCHFIEL­D

OT­TAWA — Newly re-elected Lib­eral MP Cather­ine McKenna says she has no­ti­fied po­lice af­ter some­one spray-painted a vul­gar slur on the front of her Ot­tawa Cen­tre cam­paign of­fice.

Staff ar­riv­ing at the of­fice Thurs­day morn­ing found the four-let­ter ob­scen­ity scrawled in red paint over a photo of the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter.

A vis­i­bly shaken McKenna held a news con­fer­ence to re­spond to the in­ci­dent, say­ing it sends the wrong mes­sage to the women and girls of all ages who worked on her cam­paign.

“It isn’t about me. It’s about what kind of pol­i­tics we want in our coun­try,” McKenna said af­ter strid­ing past the word “c-t” writ­ten in block let­ters across a large im­age of her face on the front win­dow of her Ot­tawa cam­paign of­fice.

“It’s the same as the trolls on Twit­ter. It needs to stop. We need to come to­gether as a coun­try and have real dis­cus­sions about real is­sues, but do­ing it in a way with­out vit­riol, with­out hate and with­out anger.”

McKenna has been the sub­ject of on­line vit­riol over her cen­tral role in the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s push to ad­dress cli­mate change, in­clud­ing its move to im­pose a car­bon tax on prov­inces with­out a sim­i­lar mea­sure that af­fected those with con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ments.

Dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, she spoke about how the anony­mous on­line abuse has es­ca­lated into in-per­son ver­bal as­saults. The threats had grown to a level where McKenna some­times re­quires a se­cu­rity de­tail, a level of pro­tec­tion cabi­net min­is­ters don’t usu­ally re­ceive.

She says she wants to have “bet­ter dis­cus­sions” in pol­i­tics.

“I have two daugh­ters. I have so many young women, and women on my cam­paign of all ages. They be­lieve in pol­i­tics and so do I,” said McKenna.

“It’s time for ev­ery­one to take a deep breath, my­self in­cluded, and I think we need to think about how we do bet­ter.”

McKenna’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents at Queen’s Park agreed, set­ting aside their, at times, bit­ter po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences over deal­ing with cli­mate change.

On Twit­ter, On­tario Pre­mier Doug Ford said of the at­tack: “Dis­gust­ing. There is no place in Canada for hate like this. While we may dis­agree on mat­ters, we must al­ways re­spect one an­other.”

Ford was fre­quently at­tacked by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau

dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, while the pre­mier has also waged war against the fed­eral car­bon tax, of­ten pit­ting him against McKenna, the en­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter.

Ford’s on­line com­ments didn’t go un­no­ticed: McKenna re­sponded with a tweet of thanks, say­ing “we can dis­agree but let’s do it re­spect­fully.”

Lisa MacLeod, who holds mul­ti­ple port­fo­lios in the Ford cabi­net and rep­re­sents an Ot­tawa pro­vin­cial rid­ing, said on Twit­ter she was of­fer­ing McKenna “my full sup­port in de­mand­ing these vis­ceral at­tacks end.

“Pol­i­tics should be about de­bat­ing ideas. Van­dal­ism, threats and per­sonal in­sults are unac­cept­able in Cana­dian pol­i­tics. My heart breaks on how she will have to ex­plain this to her chil­dren.”

McKenna cap­tured nearly 49 per cent of the vote in Ot­tawa

Cen­tre, giv­ing her a mar­gin of vic­tory of about 15,000 votes, based on pre­lim­i­nary re­sults from Elec­tions Canada. McKenna also noted that women rep­re­sented all of the main par­ties in her rid­ing — “That is great. That is progress,” she said — but noted that oth­ers have faced hate­ful at­tacks in Ot­tawa, in­clud­ing Jews, Mus­lims, blacks and mem­bers of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity.

“We all stand to­gether against this. It doesn’t mat­ter who you are.”

McKenna said she was tak­ing a break af­ter a hard cam­paign to spend some qual­ity time with her fam­ily. She said she thought the “over­heated rhetoric” of the cam­paign had sub­sided, but she was wrong. She hopes the per­son who spray-painted her face is caught.

“I think peo­ple have to be held re­spon­si­ble for their ac­tions,” she said.

JUSTIN TANG THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Cather­ine McKenna hugs a mem­ber of her team af­ter speak­ing to re­porters about the slur.

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