Between 2003 and 2015, there have been 55 recorded threats made against Alberta premiers, files from Justice and Solicitor General showed. Nineteen of those threats were aimed at Rachel Notley.
Threats are defined as “any potential event or act, deliberate or accidental, that could cause injury to employees or assets and/or as per the Criminal Code of Canada.
Threat levels are sorted into three categories: low, medium/moderate and high/serious. Low level threats “mean an individual or group that has the capability or intent to carry out the threat – which it is ‘possible but unlikely to occur.'” Medium/moderate level threats refer to “an individual or group that has the capability and intent to carry out the threat – that ‘could occur.'” High/Serious level threats are when “an individual or group that has both the capability and the intent to carry out the threat – that is ‘likely to occur.'”
Government files indicate Ralph Klein received three threats – all considered low – between July 2003 and November 2005. The first was the pie-throwing incident at the Calgary Stampede.
Ed Stelmach was the target of 14 threats – 12 low level and two medium level – between December 2006 and November 2009.
Sixteen threats were made against Alison Redford between January 2012 and October 2014. Fifteen of the incidents were considered low level and one was medium. In one case (June 2012 threat), charges were dismissed.
Jim Prentice received three threats between November 2014 and April 2015. All were recorded as low level.
Notley was the target of 19 threats made between August 2015 and December 2015. While 18 incidents were considered low level threats, police intervened in three of them.
In 2016, the way threats were reviewed and tracked changed, in part, to respond to the increase in activity on social media. That year, 412 cases of “inappropriate contact and communication” (ICC) involving Notley were reported and 26 of them were sent to police.
The office of Justice and Solicitor General said there is no set definition for what constitutes an ICC. “As potential threats come to the attention of the Sheriffs Branch, they’re analyzed and assessed on a case-by-case basis and investigators rely on their expertise and judgment to classify them accordingly,” Jason van Rassel explained.
“If something approaches or reaches the threshold for uttering threats set out in the Criminal Code, the file is forwarded to police for review and possible investigation.”
Details about the individual threats or how they were addressed were not made public.
While the NDP government was not commenting on the threats, the deputy premier was asked about them at an event Tuesday.
“We don’t spend much time talking about that to be honest,” Sarah Hoffman said. “We are really focused on making life better for Albertans, finding ways to create jobs, and keeping our heads down.
“We do have people who are in charge of ensuring she’s safe and we trust them to do their jobs and we are going to stay focused on ours.”
In November, NDP MLA Sandra Jansen was temporarily given a security detail after receiving threats in the wake of her decision to cross the floor from the Progressive Conservative party.
“Just for a little while, I’ve got some help,” Jansen said. “We’re just concerned about some of the comments that have come in. I feel much safer as a result and I think that when this blows over we can all get back to doing our jobs.”
The only other MLA with any security is the premier. The opposition leaders don’t have security, neither do cabinet ministers.
In October, Notley said she was aware of threatening comments made against her on social media, but that it’s part of being premier “in almost any day and age.”
The premier’s security detail brought the comments to the attention of RCMP and Edmonton police.
In December, the premier and some NDP MLAs were targeted with death threats over their controversial new farm safety legislation.
Alberta RCMP said they were aware of the comments but were not investigating.
“These kinds of comments cross all bounds of respect and decency and have absolutely no place in our political discourse,” Wildrose leader Brian Jean said at the time.
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