Canada's environment minister gets security detail
September 9, 2019
Facing "vocal sexism and hateful comments," Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has said she now sometimes needs a security detail. Climate change promises to be a key issue in Canada's October election.
As the climate debate intensifies ahead of Canada's federal election in October, the country's environment minister has been assigned a security detail.
"There are places, yes, that I have to have security now and I don't think that's a great situation," Catherine McKenna, a member of the governing Liberal Party, told the Canadian Press on Saturday. "I'm someone who is trying to do my job, live my life, and talk and engage with people, and it makes it harder. I'm not going to let this stop me but I wish it would stop."
McKenna, who is responsible for Canada's proposed CO2 emissions cuts under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, has faced vitriol online and offline as a target of hateful sexualized insults, having been called "garbage," a traitor and an enemy. She has even been wished dead.
In 2017, Gerry Ritz, a Conservative member of parliament, referred to McKenna as "climate Barbie" on Twitter, provoking backlash from her colleagues.
'Social media companies need to stand up'
McKenna shared a series of tweets on Saturday which highlighted the harassment women like 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and UK MP Caroline Spelman face. "The women getting this kind of hate and attacks are just doing their job," she wrote. "Social media companies need to stand up," she added, urging people to call out examples of harassment.
Several environmental activists have raised safety concerns in the face of threats from oil industry proponentswho are critical of a federal carbon tax.
Maxime Bernier, a former foreign minister and leader of Canada's newly-formed right-wing People's Party, called Thunberg "mentally unstable" earlier this month before retracting his comments.
Top election issue
Climate is expected to be a major issue in the upcoming federal election.
Canada's two main political parties take opposing views on the matter, with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau framing himself as a champion in the fight against climate change. His main opponent, the Conservative Party's Andrew Scheer, is campaigning on a promise to roll back the carbon tax.