The mystery of the intruder into Justin Trudeau’s house has a happy ending – and not only because it had nothing at all to do with any threat of a political assassination. It also illustrated the fact that Canadian police and prosecutors are usually sensible, and generally well-armed with common sense.
The 19-year-old intruder’s trespass was a simple mistake. He was extremely drunk and extremely confused. In the early hours of the morning, he thought he was opening the back door to a friend’s house; the friend had left him a message suggesting he do so. He accidentally went into the wrong house. Once inside, he thought about stealing some valuable-looking knives, which he left on the floor, and a piece of electronic equipment. He quickly changed his mind about the theft. He left a note – he thought he’d written an apology – advising the family to lock their door, which naturally sounded threatening to the Trudeaus.
When a security-camera video was released, he put two and two together, realized he was the “person of interest,” and presented himself to the police.
In jurisdictions where elected prosecutors investigate and lay charges – such as, ahem, south of the border – an event such as this would likely have been sensationalized. The allegedly dangerous lawbreaker would have faced serious charges – and might have been too afraid to turn himself in. The mistaken idea that this was a threat or an assassination attempt could have remained.
Only two Canadian politicians have been assassinated – a low rate at one per century: Darcy McGee in 1868, presumably by a member of the Irish-nationalist Fenian Brotherhood, and Pierre Laporte in 1970, by a cell of the Front de Libération du Québec. (George Brown, founder of The Globe and a Father of Confederation, was murdered – but he was shot by an employee dismissed for being drunk on the job.)
The occasional threat to a politician in Canada typically results in a police officer discreetly accompanying the official or parking overnight outside their home. Few Canadian politicians have any sort of police escort. Few need it. That’s a sign of peace, order and good government.