Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick waits to appear before the Justice Committee meeting in Ottawa, Thursday February 21, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

‘Somebody’s going to be shot’ in upcoming election campaign, Canada’s top bureaucrat says

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick was testifying at justice committee in SNC-Lavalin case

Canada’s top public servant says he is worried someone will be assassinated during the coming federal election campaign given the disturbing tenor of recent public discussion.

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick told the House of Commons justice committee Thursday he is deeply concerned about Canada’s politics and where things are headed.

Wernick appeared at the committee to address the SNC-Lavalin controversy dogging the Liberal government, but he prefaced his testimony by voicing grave reservations about the overall state of public political dialogue leading up to the October election.

“I worry about the rising tide of incitements to violence when people use terms like ‘treason’ and ‘traitor’ in open discourse. Those are the words that lead to assassination,” Wernick told the MPs. “I’m worried that somebody’s going to be shot in this country this year during the political campaign.”

The hashtag #traitortrudeau has appeared on Twitter posts critical of the prime minister in recent weeks.

At a Saskatchewan town-hall meeting in January, a woman accused Justin Trudeau of selling out the country to his globalist partners, adding that traitors were once hanged for treason in Canada.

At a pro-pipeline protest on Parliament Hill this week featuring a convoy of truckers, Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk encouraged participants to roll over every Liberal left in the country.

Wernick did not mention Tkachuk by name Thursday, but he said it was “totally unacceptable” that a parliamentarian would incite people to drive trucks over others after 10 pedestrians were killed in a van attack in Toronto last year.

“I hope that you as parliamentarians are going to condemn that,” he said.

Wernick lamented that the reputations of honourable people who have served their country were “being besmirched and dragged through the market square.”

He also expressed dismay about what he called the “trolling from the vomitorium of social media” entering the open media arena.

“Most of all, I worry about people losing faith in the institutions of governance of this country, and that’s why these proceedings are so important.”

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

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