CBC: MPs say democracy is fraying in Canada — but there's hope

For some MPs, the negativity of social media has crossed into both threatened and real abuse.

Jenny Kwan, NDP MP for Vancouver East, said she worries about rising extremism on the right, inspired by former U.S. president Donald Trump.

"I saw how people became very much open to the whole idea of discrimination and racism and and white supremacy openly," she said. "And I'm seeing some of that, you know, emerging in our community."

Just as she and CBC reporter Anne Penman were discussing the issue in Kwan's riding, the MP was confronted by someone who began to shout racist abuse at her, including, "You don't belong here, Jenny" and "Go home, Jenny."

"I hope that anger comes from a place of need, for people to be heard and be supported. So I work hard not to take it personally, even though it's very personal and sometimes very hurtful," Kwan said.

"I've had people say to my face, for example, with COVID-19, that it is the 'Kwan virus.'"

Kwan's caucus colleague, Nunavut MP Lori Idlout, said the wave of threats aimed at MPs last year was one of two things that made her fear for Canadian democracy — the other being the 2022 convoy protests.

"MPs as lawmakers need to know that they can do their work without fear, without knowing that their families' lives are at risk because of what other threats might be given to them," Idlout said.

While she sometimes feels down about the state of democracy, Kwan said there's often a simple fix.

"I will come back and I will walk the streets. I'll reconnect with people, talk to the people," she said. "Not as a politician, just as a human being. And [I] ground myself. Then I realize why I'm here.”

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