Police are remaining tight-lipped about a prowler who struck the Ottawa home of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau while his family slept inside.
Over the weekend, Mr. Trudeau’s office issued a statement providing a bare outline of the early-morning break-in, which unnerved the family and raised questions about the high-profile leader’s lack of security.
Mr. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, and the couple’s three children were sleeping Saturday morning when the intruder slipped into the family home, located in Ottawa’s Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood. Nothing was stolen and nobody was hurt. All that remained was a hand-written “threatening” note.
The RCMP referred all media calls to the Ottawa Police Service. An investigator with the OPS Break and Enter Unit confirmed the incident but would only provide a “No comment” when asked about details of the note, which reportedly warned the Trudeau family to lock their doors.
Mr. Trudeau was working in Manitoba at the time of the break-in before travelling to Montreal to participate in the city’s gay pride festivities. He told reporters there he was “extremely troubled” over the incident and that his family joined him in Montreal on Saturday to avoid staying in the Ottawa home. He plans to spend the next three days in Edmonton for the party’s summer caucus meeting. “We’re a little bit rattled, but we’re hoping that investigation and security will keep us safe in the future,” he told CBC.
The RCMP’s Protective Operations unit is responsible for shielding senior federal leaders, such as the Prime Minister, Governor-General and Leader of the Official Opposition. As head of the third party, Mr. Trudeau isn’t entitled to that security. The Minister of Public Safety, however, does have the authority to add to the list of those requiring protection.
In the wake of the break-in, the RCMP will likely conduct its own threat assessment and offer some level of protection to Mr. Trudeau if the risk is considered legitimate, according to a retired RCMP officer who specialized in VIP protection.
“They will want to determine the validity of the threat, of the note, and then there’s usually a sit-down with the person who’s been threatened,” said Ty Watts, who watched over the entire Trudeau family, including baby Justin, when then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau was in power. Mr. Watts now runs LTD & Associates, a private investigation and security firm.
He said he no longer feels so protective of Mr. Trudeau, now 42 years of age, but suggested the Mounties should take the note seriously. He said the RCMP routinely provide security for MPs and consular officials where there is a legitimate security risk, and Mr. Trudeau would be no different.
“Of course, they could also determine based on the note that the whole thing is a prank. That happens.”
The Trudeaus moved into the rented six-bedroom Georgian home last year. They have dealt with security issues in the past but never on such an alarming scale. Last March, Montreal police arrested a 41-year-old man after receiving a complaint that he was harassing Mr. Trudeau’s family and staff.