Man charged with threatening PM

A 41-year-old man accused of threatening the prime minister on social media will have about a month to consider his options following a court appearance in Melville August 8.

Christopher Hayes was arrested August 2 at his residence Grayson, approximately 70km south of Yorkton. He was charged with one count of uttering threats against Justin Trudeau and released on conditions the following day after a brief appearance in Yorkton Provincial Court.

Police were originally alerted to a potential threat, allegedly posted on social media, in March. A press release stated the National Security Enforcement Section began an investigation and after receiving a second complaint July 13 took further action.

As part of the investigation RCMP searched Hayes’ residence and seized several electronic devices.

A Facebook page under the name Christopher Hayes bearing the defendant’s likeness as a profile picture features a hodge podge of anti-Trudeau political posts including most recently on the day he was arrested a link to a video with the headline  “Canada is being led by a terroists [sic] supporter.”

In other posts, he writes about starting “civil unrest,” gathering people “to overthrow [Alberta premier Rachel] Notley and Trudeau” and organizing “a movement to overthrow a corrupt government.”

There are also numerous anti-Hillary Clinton posts, but nothing of an overtly or directly threatening nature, at least not anymore.

However, the police and Crown claim to have posts that could not be ignored, but are playing the alleged evidence very close to their vests.

“We take all complaints of this nature (threats) very seriously, no matter who the victim is or by what means the threat is conveyed, and investigate them to their fullest potential,” said Supt. Rob Cameron, “F” Division assistant criminal operations officer, Federal Policing.

“We can’t speculate on whether or not someone may or may not act on alleged threats made. In this instance we became aware of these alleged threats, conducted an investigation and laid charges against one person.”

Hayes’ release order included the statutory conditions and numerous others including: not attempting to directly or indirectly communicate with the prime minister; surrending all firearms and any possession and acquisition licences to the RCMP within 24 hours; not possessing any electronic devices capable of duplicating, creating or generating social media posts (except for work purposes); reporting monthly to the RCMP; remaining in Saskatchewan; and relinquishing his passport.

During a brief court appearance Monday in Melville, legal aid defence attorney Josh Seib requested an adjournment until September 12 so Hayes could consider his options.

Seib also requested a variation to his client’s undertaking to include an exception on the use of electronic devices for the purposes of communicating with legal counsel and doing legal research.

Prosecutor Fred Fisher agreed to the variation on behalf of the Crown.

This is not the first time charges have been laid against individuals for allegedly threatening the prime minister. In January a 57-year-old Ottawa man was arrested after allegedly being overheard on a Via Rail train talking about killing Trudeau, his family and female MPs.

On June 16, a 47-year-old Verdun, Québec man was arrested for posting messages threatening toward Trudeau on social media.

He is not the first prime minister to be the subject of threats.

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