Montreal man charged after threatening to kill PM over social media

By Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — A Montreal man appeared in court on Wednesday after he allegedly threatened in an online post to kill Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The RCMP said Paul Clarissou, 30, faces one count of uttering threats, following an investigation by the force’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.

Crown prosecutor François Giasson said Clarissou’s case was put off until March 26.

The Quebec-based RCMP unit investigated after the alleged comments were reported, and charges were laid on Jan. 31. Police said the post was made on the accused’s account on the X platform, formerly Twitter, but did not specify what was said.

According to the charges filed by the Crown, the alleged threat was made against Trudeau on or around May 19, 2023. 

Coincidentally, also in May 2023, Trudeau commented in the House of Commons about the rise in threats against politicians, in response to a question about whether MPs and cabinet ministers should be better protected.

“Over the last several years, we’ve seen an increase in polarization and the toxicity and the level of hate (and) discourse in Canada, especially hate directed toward parliamentarians,” Trudeau said.

“We have to do everything necessary to keep those who serve democracy safe.”

A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday it does not comment on matters of security involving the prime minister, and referred all questions to police.

The RCMP said in a statement that they take seriously any threat that affects a person’s security, and that anyone engaging in such activity could face criminal charges and a significant sentence.

“We have seen more of those incidents since the COVID pandemic, and have consequently adapted our resources to effectively monitor the Web,” RCMP Sgt. Charles Poirier said in an email. “We’re therefore in a better situation to prevent real threats.”

Last month, a Quebec man pleaded guilty to uttering threats toward Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault in a series of online videos. Germain Lemay, 30, pleaded guilty to five of the seven charges he was facing, including uttering threats toward the two politicians between July and September 2023.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2024.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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