MacLeod Speaks Out About Threats, Harassment

Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod has spoken out against the threats and intimidation tactics she and other politicians have faced and continue to face while representing the public.

MacLeod opened up about the topic first on the X platform and shared some of the disturbing messages she has received in the past.

On March 15, she retweeted a post she received. The message to MacLeod was blunt. “Kill yourself. Vile c—.

MacLeod made a comment when sharing the tweet, saying “His parents must be so proud. A special skill most of us refuse to pass on to our offspring – how to make female politicians feel unsafe – is something their son has excelled at. The mind marvels. @OttawaPolice @OPP_News.”

In the Ontario Legislature, she recently addressed the topic in a Member’s Statement, calling it “something that we don’t discuss often in the public but needs to be discussed here in this chamber, in chambers across Canada and in our city council chambers.”

In her statement, MacLeod referenced all levels of government and members of other parties.

“(Last month), when the mayor of Gatineau announced that she was going to resign her seat effective immediately, citing mental health issues and a death threat, it hit home to me,” MacLeod said, referencing former Gatineau Mayor France Bélisle. “It hit home to me, because I have been here for 18 years, watching a variety of different protests occur at people’s homes, like at Sam Oosterhoff’s, at Kathleen Wynne’s, at Doug Ford’s, at Christine Elliott’s and of course, at Stephen Lecce’s. I have seen my colleagues see their constituency offices vandalized, like the member from Haliburton–Kawartha Lakes–Brock, Laurie Scott, or the leader of His Majesty’s loyal opposition, Marit Stiles.”

Earlier this month, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe also had his office broken into and vandalized.

“I, too, have had my share of private security, legislative security and of course, OPP and Ottawa police protection, as someone was incarcerated not once but three times in her uttering of death threats against me. Of course, it came with a significant toll for my mental health,” MacLeod said.

When MacLeod was the Minister of Children, Community and Social Servies, a 41-year-old mother of a five-year-old autistic boy was charged with Criminal harassment, alleged to have occurred between Feb. 8 and March 1, 2019, that caused MacLeod “to reasonably fear for her safety,” according to court documents. The woman was also charged with uttering a threat to cause bodily harm, allegedly by email, on Feb. 26, 2019; uttering a threat to cause bodily harm, allegedly by email, on March 1, 2019; and uttering a threat to cause death, allegedly via a telephone message between Feb. 8 and March 4, 2019.

MacLeod penned an op-ed column for the political website, iPolitics, to address the issue of safety for politicians. In it, she is calling for a national conversation, where topics like misogyny in politics, radicalization in politics and international influence in politics as it pertains to the safety and security of everyone, from a municipal councillor to a staffer that’s at the front lines, to a federal parliamentarian, would be discussed.

“Safety in our politics has reached a tipping point,” MacLeod wrote. “Too many who hold office are now focussed on the safety of our families and staff because of the threats we receive.

MacLeod pointed out that the youngest person ever elected to Ontario’s Legislature, Sam Oosterhoff, was protested at his home for his Christian beliefs., Kathleen Wynne, who was Ontario’s first female and LGBTQ+ Premier, was the subject of a demonstration by Black Lives Matter, again at her home. MacLeod wrote that it also happened to Christine Elliott, Stephen Lecce and Premier Doug Ford whose family, and neighbours, feared for their safety. Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles had her constituency office vandalized, as did Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Conservative MPP Laurie Scott.

It was also recently revealed that revealed both Melissa Lantsman, the deputy Leader of the federal Conservative Party and Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal New Democrats, were both under police protection for threats which were deemed dangerous enough to warrant it.

“This rise in unsafe protests and physical threats is an alarming trend designed to intimidate and silence voices elected to speak on our behalf,” MacLeod wrote. “The threats, vandalism and harassment at politicians’ homes is a serious matter, one that needs to be addressed now before someone is injured or worse.

According to MacLeod, the days of being able to freely stand up and voice an opinion as a politician without fear of physical harm are gone.

“It used to be that the way to share your disagreement with a politician was to write a letter to them, or the Editor, engage in peaceful protest outside of their office and use your ballot every four years,” stated MacLeod. “That was a bygone era.

“Unfortunately, I am far too aware that too many choose the more violent options experienced by my colleagues.”

MacLeod said she was once called “The Lioness of the Legislature,” but after everything she has experienced, she became a terrified turtle.

“Having been on the receiving end of death threats, online harassment, office vandalism and a visit to my family home by those who disagreed with me, police protection and enhanced legislative security was a reality for me for months,” MacLeod wrote. “As was a criminal trial for a person who was incarcerated multiple times and two serious mental health crises’ that were exacerbated by the trauma of it all. I have the scars, medication and doctors’ appointments to prove it.”

MacLeod added that in order to tackle the issue, all politicians from various levels of government and from all sides of the political spectrum must come together and work on a solution.

“Politicians of all stripes are affected, and politicians of all stripes must be part of the solution. I offer this, without hesitation when threats, intimidation, or harassment, including illegal protests on private property occur, condemnation from party leaders is swift and unifying,” MacLeod wrote. “Only when there is agreement from right to left that suppressing elected voices by threat is offside will those who cross the line know that their actions won’t be tolerated.”

She concluded by saying that the threats and harassment, which are very visible for all to see on platforms like X, are preventing good and qualified people to run for an elected position.

“It’s always been a challenge getting good people to run for office, but as Madame Belisle showed us this week, threatening a politician’s life has tremendous consequences,” MacLeod wrote. “We can either collectively deal with it now or live to regret it.”