Discussions about killing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have been appearing on a Facebook page for Canadians who align themselves with the so-called yellow vest protests in France.
The Yellow Vests Canada group has gathered more than 100,000 members on Facebook since it launched a month ago as French anti-government demonstrations got underway.
But while the group’s own rules encourage civility and prohibit the advocacy of violence, the page is rife with comments that wish for — and sometimes encourage — the death of the prime minister.
“Trudeau needs to be shot,” read one comment, while another said that whoever did so would become “Canada’s greatest hero.”
“Just shoot him,” read yet another.
Some said he should be hanged or posted images of a noose, guillotine, electric chair and gunman. Others referred to the assassination of former U.S. president John F. Kennedy.
“The RCMP is aware of the comments made on Facebook,” Staff Sgt. Tania Vaughan told Global News. “We take all threats made against the prime minister very seriously.”
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A moderator of the Yellow Vests Canada Facebook group, Josue St.-Cyr, said “we do not tolerate this kind of talk and it will be dealt with.”
Facebook said it was reviewing the posts and comments and would take action as warranted.
“We do not tolerate harassment on Facebook, and it’s our aim to prevent any potential real-world harm that may be related to content on our platform,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
“That’s why we remove content, disable accounts and use a combination of technology, reports from our community and human review to enforce our policies.”
On Tuesday, a Facebook account used to organized ‘yellow vests’ protests in London was suspended for hate speech.
A Twitter account, Yellow Vests Canada Exposed, has been tracking the comments and tagging the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
One read: “Wish a sharpshooter would put a bullet in his head.”
“The comments about killing Trudeau are concerning because they are advocating murder and demonstrate the extent to which some members of YV Canada hold extremist views,” said terrorism analyst Jessica Davis.
“Whether or not they will act on those views remains to be seen.”
A post this week about Trudeau’s ski vacation in Whistler, B.C., elicited a flurry of harsh comments, some mentioning his brother Michel, who died in a 1998 avalanche.
“Hopefully he ends up like his brother,” one comment read.
Others referred to Sonny Bono, the U.S. singer and former California congressman who died in 1998 when he struck a tree while skiing.
“With any luck, he’ll do a Sonny Bono,” one comment read.
“Push him off a cliff,” one user wrote, while another asked how easy it would be to stab Trudeau.
A few commenters pushed back on the posts, saying Trudeau had a family and that opponents would use the remarks about wanting him dead to discredit the yellow vests.
The Facebook group describes itself as a protest against the carbon tax and politicians who it claims are selling “our country’s sovereignty over to the globalist UN and their tyrannical policies.”
Canada’s yellow vests are “a loose organization of individuals dissatisfied with the Trudeau government,” said Davis, a consultant and former CSIS analyst.
She said it was not a “coherent movement” in Canada and its events had attracted few protesters. Anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric were common themes, she said.
“The YV movement in Canada is dominated by the extreme right and has the potential to spin off violent subgroups. Overall, the movement is not a threat to national security, but elements within may take violent action on their extremist ideas.”