Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has asked the RCMP for a threat assessment after a weekend break-in at his Ottawa home – a high-profile incident that left his family shaken and raised questions about which politicians should be assigned a federal security detail.
Mr. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, and the couple’s three children were sleeping Saturday morning when an intruder slipped into the family home, located in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood. A source close to the Liberal Leader said a threatening note warning the family to lock their doors was left atop several large knives on the kitchen floor. A door – the one least accessible from the street – had been left unlocked, the source said.
Nothing was stolen and nobody was hurt, but the break-in prompted a phone call Sunday evening from Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, who expressed his regrets and “reiterated his support for [the family’s] safety,” the minister’s spokesman said.
The incident has highlighted the dangers Canadian politicians sometimes face, prompting scrutiny of the list of federal lawmakers automatically assigned a security detail.
The RCMP’s Protective Operations unit is responsible for shielding senior federal leaders, such as the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and their families. The Official Opposition Leader, currently the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, doesn’t have a personal security detail outside of election periods, an NDP source said.
As head of the third party, Mr. Trudeau isn’t automatically entitled to security.
The Public Safety Minister, however, has the authority to add to the list of those requiring protection. Several years ago, former finance minister Jim Flaherty was famously assigned security guards after he was the target of death threats over the Conservative government’s 2006 decision to tax income trusts.
In the United States, the Secret Service is authorized to protect the president, vice-president, president-elect, vice president-elect and all their immediate families.
Major presidential and vice-presidential candidates are afforded protection within 120 days of a general election. U.S. law also permits the president to add others to the list via executive order.
Kate Purchase, Mr. Trudeau’s spokeswoman, said the Liberal Leader has asked the RCMP to conduct a risk and threat assessment.
The source close to Mr. Trudeau said the understanding is that the assessment is under way and could result in a recommendation that Mr. Blaney designate Mr. Trudeau as meriting protection.
RCMP spokesman Sergeant Greg Cox said the force continues to “review all information that is available,” while Mr. Blaney’s spokesman didn’t directly address questions regarding whether Mr. Trudeau would be given protection.
“Minister Blaney understands the concerns of the Trudeau family,” Jason Tamming said in an e-mail. “This matter is being currently dealt with by the RCMP which has the operational expertise when it comes to ensuring the security of political leaders.”
Constable Marc Soucy, a spokesman for the Ottawa Police Service, which is leading the investigation, said Monday detectives had no suspects but are “working on the leads they have.”
Mr. Trudeau, who was working in Manitoba at the time of the break-in, is in Edmonton this week for a three-day summer caucus retreat that kicked off Monday.