MPs get panic buttons to boost security

MPs are being given panic buttons to increase their personal security following a series of threats, and rising concern about harassment of Parliamentarians.

In an interview, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino revealed he has been subject to death threats on social media in recent weeks, after presenting a bill curbing gun ownership.

Mendicino said he, police, and Parliamentary Protective Services, are reassessing the security of MPs after a series of threats and intimidating incidents.

That includes the verbal harassment of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh during an Ontario election campaign visit last month.

A video shows Singh encountering protesters as he left the campaign office, who can be heard shouting expletives at him and calling him a “traitor”‘ as he gets inside a vehicle. Singh has said the experience in Peterborough, Ont., was one of the worst incidents of aggressive behaviour in his political career.

Among the measures being rolled out to boost protection for MPs are panic buttons, or “mobile duress alarms,” which they can carry around to immediately alert Parliamentary Protective Services or local police for a rapid response if they are facing a threat.

The sergeant-at-arms, in a presentation to Liberal MPs about new security measures, strongly recommended that they keep the panic button with them “at all times.”

The device can be used across Canada, including in their constituencies, the presentation said.

The sergeant-at-arms, who is in charge of House of Commons security, is offering training to MPs and staff on how to de-escalate potentially violent situations.

Parliament is also offering MPs the chance to have the security assessed at their constituency offices and homes, and alarms, panic buttons, cameras and other security measures installed if necessary.

The public safety minister said it was part of his mandate to “ensure that all parliamentarians have the security that they need.”

He said MPs are getting the support that they need, and he was working closely with law enforcement, the sergeant-at-arms and Parliamentary Protective Services along with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc in…