Known for his fondness for hand-shaking, Trudeau was notably less accessible to the 2,000 supporters who came to hear him speak at a rally in Mississauga, Ontario on Saturday. Photographs of the Canadian leader show Trudeau wearing body armor under his shirt as security personnel escorted him through the crowd. Tellingly, his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, was scheduled to introduce him before he gave his stump speech – but she failed to appear on stage.
Senior Liberal sources tell CBC, Justin Trudeau was wearing a bullet proof vest on stage for tonight’s rally, after a security threat.— Salimah Shivji (@salimah_shivji) October 12, 2019
He was delayed by 1.5 hours and much heavier security around him once on stage. Here’s what our cameras picked up. #cdnpoli#elxn43pic.twitter.com/IZkRjO0bFl
The precautions were put in place after the campaign was made aware of a credible security threat, according to the CBC. Although the campaign event went smoothly, such security concerns are almost unheard of in Canadian politics. Unlike its neighbor to the south, there is almost no history of political violence in Canada.
Trudeau faces a tight election on October 21, with the Liberals neck-and-neck with the opposition Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer.
In a tweet, Scheer said that it was “very upsetting” to hear that Trudeau had to wear a bulletproof vest. “Threats of violence against political leaders have absolutely no place in our democracy,” he wrote.
Very upsetting to hear that Justin Trudeau had to wear a bulletproof vest tonight at a campaign event. Threats of violence against political leaders have absolutely no place in our democracy. Thank you to the RCMP for taking these threats seriously and keeping us safe.— Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer) October 13, 2019
While many on social media were similarly upset by the news, some members of the Twitterati speculated that the security threat was a ruse to drum up sympathy for the embattled prime minister. Several netizens even blamed Scheer for dividing the country and stoking the threat of political violence.
pic.twitter.com/cxt3n9FxEH— basil26 (@basil26) October 13, 2019
You helped with your message of division and hate so I am sorry it doesn’t absolve you!— D S (@Danielle2671) October 13, 2019