Two members of the Independent Senators Group said police and parliamentary security were investigating a threat that forced one of them to leave her home last weekend after a social media post blasted members of the Upper House for their position on a carbon pricing bill for farmers.
Quebec Senator Raymonde Saint-Germain and Ontario Senator Bernadette Clement also accused members of the Senate Conservative caucus of “physical and verbal intimidation” in the Senate on November 9, then later sharing a post about social networks which they say has led to online hara*sment. .
“I believe this is a wake-up call for our democracy,” Saint-Germain, head of the Independent Senators Group, said Wednesday in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Clement said she fled her home in Cornwall, Ont., about 100 kilometers southeast of Ottawa, last weekend after her office received a phone call from “a very angry man.” angry (who) said he would come to my house.”
Clement said she first called the Parliamentary Protective Service, who told her she needed to call Cornwall Police.
“Both bodies told me, ‘No, we’re going to follow protocol.’ This is what you do,” she said.
They asked her to find her Parliament-issued panic button, which she said she left in her Ottawa apartment because she always feels safe in Cornwall. When she hesitated to worry about the threat, they urged her to take it seriously, she said.
“I usually feel like I’m home and safe, but then they told me, ‘Look, that’s not the case,’” Clement said.
She said she went to her downtown Ottawa apartment, which she uses during Senate sessions. She said it had its own security system.
Chad Maxwell, field operations inspector with the Cornwall Police Service, confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating.
“The Cornwall Police Service is aware of the current situation with Senator Bernadette Clement and is in communication with the Parliamentary Protective Service,” Maxwell said.
“These threats and online hara*sment are unacceptable and are taken very seriously by the police. »
Clément and Saint-Germain, who were both appointed to the Senate on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said it all started after Clément moved to adjourn debate on Bill C-234. The private member’s bill seeks a carbon price exemption for propane and natural gas used by farmers to heat farm buildings and dry grain.
Introduced by Conservative MP Ben Lobb in 2022, the bill pa*sed the House of Commons with the support of all parties except the Liberals.
There is one stage of debate remaining before a final vote in the Senate can pa*s it.
The bill received little attention in its early days but has received greater scrutiny in recent weeks, particularly after the Liberals moved to exempt home heating oil from the carbon price for three years. They said it was intended to give people more time and money to replace oil furnaces with electric heat pumps.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre launched a large-scale effort to pa*s the bill as part of his anti-carbon pricing campaign to “remove the tax” and accused the ruling Liberals of trying to prevent approval of the bill.
This accusation took on an even angrier tone on November 9, when the bill was debated again in the Senate.
An amendment was introduced that Conservative senators deemed frivolous and intended to force the bill back to the House of Commons, where the government could prevent it from coming up for another vote.
Clément, who was not the originator of the amendment, moved to adjourn the debate because, according to her, some senators were not present to speak about it that day.
That’s when things went wrong, she said.
“After violently throwing his earpiece, the Leader of the Opposition stood in front of Senator Clement and me as we sat at our desks, shouting and berating us for proposing this routine motion that would see debate resume the following week, when we return,” Saint said,” Germain said on the Senate floor Tuesday evening in raising a question of privilege on the matter.
Before the question of privilege was raised, Senator Don Plett, who leads the Conservative caucus in the Senate, spoke in the House on Tuesday about his role in the heated debate.
Nobody is “very happy with what happened (on November 9) and we all have our reasons,” he said.
He said he didn’t “think I had behaved unprofessionally, but I got angry.”
“I don’t like being called a bully,” he added. “I don’t like being a bully either, but I’m pa*sionate about it. I am pa*sionate and dedicated to what I believe in. I will never apologize for that. I will fight hard for my cause and my party, but I want to do it in a respectful manner, dear colleagues, and if I did not do it (on November 9), it is not acceptable.
In fashion now
Several senators spoke in favor of Saint-Germain and Clément, recognizing that the behavior they witnessed was unacceptable. Senator Renée Dupuis said Plett’s behavior qualified as “hara*sment and intimidation.”
Plett did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Sen. David Wells, another conservative senator, raised another question of privilege Tuesday, accusing Sen. Lucie Moncion of calling him a bully, and said the context around what happened was important.
He explained that some anger arose from the belief that there was a conspiracy to carry out government orders.
Clément and Saint-Germain say, however, that the intimidation and bullying did not stop in the Senate.
They highlighted a post from Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, a week after the adjournment debacle.
The post included a graphic with photos of Clément and Quebec Senator Chantal Petitclerc, along with their contact information and words encouraging people to call them to ask why they were ending debate on the bill. The message was shared by several senators.
Petitclerc, Clément and Saint-Germain all said the graphic looked like a “most wanted poster.”
Petitclerc and Clément said they received an avalanche of worrying phone calls. Clément called the comments received online racist and misogynistic. There is also this threatening call which pushed Clément to leave his home.
Several senators called the social media post “doxxing,” which generally refers to sharing a person’s personal identifiers and contact information on the internet without their consent, often inviting retaliation against them.
But it was “definitely not doxxing,” conservative Sen. Denise Batters, who shared Scheer’s post on X, said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
“The published message did not contain any personal email addresses or telephone numbers,” she said.
“The emails and phone numbers on this (post) are from the offices of these two particular senators – the emails and phone numbers from their Senate offices. I certainly had no intention of hara*sing anyone or providing a venue to do anything like that.
Asked about Scheer’s message regarding senators, Conservative Party spokesman Sebastian Skamski said it was not a “wanted” poster. He reiterated accusations against Clement that she was simply carrying out government orders.
“While millions of Canadians are forced to resort to food banks, this so-called “independent” senator, who ran in numerous elections as a Liberal and was appointed to the Senate by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau , is just doing what he wants to punish Canadians. farmers and the families they feed with a costly carbon tax,” Skamski said.
Clément ran for the Liberals in the 2011 and 2015 federal elections, but lost both times.
She stated that she did not work for the government at all, that she had not spoken to any ministers about the bill and that she had in fact voted for it when it was referred to the Senate by a committee on last month.
She said she hasn’t yet decided how she plans to vote on the final bill.
—With files from Liam PKB