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Some members of Parliament, ministers assigned police protection as security tightens

The Peace Tower is pictured on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick The Peace Tower is pictured on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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OTTAWA -

A Conservative MP whose Toronto office was vandalized this week is among several federal politicians now under visible police protection on Parliament Hill.

Melissa Lantsman's Thornhill office was plastered with anti-Israel posters overnight Wednesday including one warning "the Jews of Thornhill" that history is watching how they respond to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In recent weeks, Lantsman has also been seen with a protective detail on Parliament Hill.

A Conservative official confirmed that the deputy Conservative leader has RCMP protection, but did not say why.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has been surrounded by RCMP officers both in Ottawa and elsewhere, including at the recent New Democrat caucus retreat in Edmonton.

NDP spokeswoman Alana Cahill would provide no details about what precipitated the need.

"All I can say is we follow the recommendations that are provided to us," she said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly has regularly been spotted with protection of late. Earlier this year, anti-Israel protesters appeared outside her Montreal home.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan has also been closely flanked by police, who even accompanied him right up to the door of the cabinet room this week.

Sajjan has previously discussed a number of threats made against him, including in his pre-political life in the military and as a Vancouver police detective. But this week, he would not discuss why he is currently being offered a protective detail.

"I am well-protected," Sajjan said Tuesday in response to a question about his security. "We have a good system here in Canada to protect ministers."

While the prime minister and the Governor General are given permanent protective details, other MPs, cabinet ministers, senators and party leaders receive protection on a "case-by-case basis," the RCMP said in response to questions from The Canadian Press on Thursday.

But those cases are mounting, as is the budget to handle them.

Data provided by the RCMP show it cost $2.5 million to provide protection for parliamentarians, excluding the prime minister, between April 1 and Dec. 31 of last year.

That is already 40 per cent more than the $1.8 million budget in the full 12 months before that, and 86 per cent more than the $1.4 million spent in 2021-22.

"Protective measures are intelligence-led and based on the latest risk and threat assessments, ongoing security considerations and a number of other factors," the RCMP said.

"For the safety of those we protect and of our members, as well as to ensure the integrity of operations, the RCMP does not disclose information related to protective measures, nor confirm individuals who may receive protection."

Threats against politicians have become more common and more serious in recent years.

On Feb. 7, RCMP charged a man in Montreal for allegedly threatening to kill Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The public inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act to end the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa in 2022 heard that someone who participated in that event threatened to "put a bullet" into the head of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Joly was on a list of politicians in an online threat posted on the far-right social network Gab in 2022. The threat identified politicians that should be executed for treason.

Last fall, Sajjan gave a lengthy interview to the New York Times in which he said that as a Sikh in a position of power in Canada, threats have not been unusual for him.

Before running for office, Sajjan was a military intelligence officer and a Vancouver police detective. He told the Times the threats had ramped up a lot in recent years.

Sajjan's interview came after Canada accused the Indian government of being involved in the murder of a Canadian Sikh leader in British Columbia last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 15, 2024.

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