The City of Waterloo passed a motion Monday that would provide future council members with funding for security systems, with some pointing to a more hostile political climate as a reason for why the initiative was needed.
Members of council for the Ontario city could receive up to $100 per month toward their home security systems.
Councillors welcomed the motion, passing it unanimously, with one suggesting that treatment toward politicians has become more concerning in recent years.
“It was around 2010, 2014 that everything changed,” said Ward 4 Coun. Diane Freeman at Monday’s meeting.
“The emails that were sent to me just included so much foul language, abusive comments, harassment, comments that related to ownership over me as a person, as opposed to asking me to consider this in my decision making.”
Freeman said that she’s lost sleep over some emails, and there was one incident where she was concerned for her family’s safety.
‘Something has changed’
Ward 7 Coun. Tenille Bonoguore noted at Monday’s meeting that “something has changed in the tenor of discourse.”
She couldn’t point to the exact time things changed, when asked by CBC News, but says she felt it heated up online during the pandemic.
However, Bonoguore says that she’s also had an incident where she was worried for the safety of her family during her term, which predates the pandemic.
“I was very conflicted when this whole idea came up and I think it’s part of that dissonance between what we want the world to be and what the world is like for some people at the moment, and in my preferred world, we wouldn’t need this,” Bonoguore told CBC News.
“You wouldn’t have the potential for threats or anything like that just for stepping up to help your community, and I didn’t really want it to be a thing. I didn’t want it to be raised by the city clerk as something that might be needed in the future. I didn’t want any of this to be happening.”
Bonoguore is not seeking re-election, but said that this issue didn’t influence her decision and she hopes that this won’t turn people away from running for public office.
“I just want people to kind of remember that people are good, the community is still strong, and this policy, it’s really a protection against the outliers,” she said.