“It’s ordinary”: where was the security to protect Minister Mélanie Joly?

Where was the security around Minister Mélanie Joly when a man attacked her on the sidewalk on Friday in Montreal? In the midst of the Israel-Hamas war, an elected official of her caliber must be better protected, according to experts.

“It’s still an explosive situation. We are talking about a minister who takes care of Canada’s external affairs, and we are in a war with Israel and Palestine. Can we at least provide him with a little security for the short time this will last?” thunders Normand Desrochers, who was the bodyguard of former Prime Minister Jean Charest from 2003 to 2014.

• Read also: Confronted by a Montrealer about the situation in Gaza, Minister Mélanie Joly loses her calm

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, was attacked on Friday by a man on the sidewalk in Montreal about the situation in Gaza. The federal elected official responded by grabbing the phone of this citizen who was filming her and who had told her in particular that “her job” was to “harass her”.

Mme Was Joly then accompanied by any personnel responsible for her security? Despite our multiple requests, his office did not respond to our questions.

“It’s ordinary”

If a bodyguard was present, the procedure for confronting this man “was really not up to standard,” insists Mr. Desrochers, who argues that he should have been arrested well before approaching so close. of the minister.

“He would have made a human shield saying: “What do you want?” There, we found ourselves with a politician forced to defend herself. It’s ordinary,” laments Mr. Desrochers.

Normand Desrochers, pictured here in 2012, was a bodyguard for former Prime Minister Jean Charest.


“There are feelings here [sur le conflit israélo-palestinien] which are expressed in the public square which can raise questions which would call for a higher level of protection for the Minister of Foreign Affairs”, adds Pierre-Yves Bourduas, former deputy commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and president of PY Public Security Management Inc.

Unlike provincial ministers and party leaders in Quebec, federal ministers do not have an assigned bodyguard.

However, Ottawa announced, in May 2023, that RCMP agents would accompany ministers and senior officials on a case-by-case basis, given the increasing threat of political violence.

“There are certain elected officials who want to have as little security as possible around them because they want to have a normal life,” Mr. Bourduas adds nuance. But reality is catching up with our elected officials.”

“Normal” and “human” reaction

If the elected officials are normally coached to deal with various situations and avoid physical altercations, M’s reactionme Joly in the face of this man was still “normal,” argues Jeremy Ghio, director at Tact, and who has worked in several Quebec and Canadian ministers’ offices.

“I think everyone would be surprised and would have this very human reflex,” he maintains.

This event also worries Mr. Ghio about the safety of federal elected officials.

“We are talking about the Minister of Foreign Affairs of a G7 country. […] It’s the kind of event that makes things boil over. Are we going to wait until something happens” before strengthening security? he asks.

“If it was someone with bad intentions, he could have hit her [Mélanie Joly], attack him, God knows what. Something bad is going to happen at some point. That is sure and certain,” believes Mr. Desrochers.

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