A 37-year-old woman is in custody facing criminal charges for allegedly threatening Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz.
Jennifer Alice Danielsen faces a charge connected with alleged contacts with Gaetz going back to last year. She was first in court on Sept. 16 on the file for an application for a peace bond. That protection order is given for someone who fears another person may injure them, and is issued under section 810 of the criminal code.
On June 13, Danielsen is alleged to have violated her bail conditions on that peace bond. She was re-arrested on June 14 and remains in custody. Her file was in Chilliwack provincial court on June 20 with her next appearance set forJuly 11.
Danielsen’s file was taken over by the Abbotsford Crown in order “to avoid any potential for perceived improper administration of justice given that the complainant is a senior member of the municipal government,” according to a Criminal Justice Branch spokesperson.
There are few public details about the allegations and Gaetz declined to speak to The Progress about the incidents as the matter is before the courts. A spokesperson for city hall said the matter has gone on for more than a year and “has been stressful for everyone involved.”
At Danielsen’s appearance last week, the judge ordered a psychological report be prepared in advance of a bail hearing.
Danielsen is also charged with criminal harassment for an incident on Feb. 28, 2016, according to Court Services Online, but the Crown spokesperson confirmed this incident does not involve Gaetz.
The allegations involving harassment of the mayor come as more than ever public officials in the Lower Mainland face such behaviour, particularly online.
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read only returned to work in mid-May after having missed five months due to “a real, serious threat.” The nature of the threat has not been explained but the RCMP are investigating, and it was enough for Read to keep a low profile since November.
Most recently, Read said while her personal security threat has diminished, she wants the conversation about harassment and bullying of female politicians to continue.
“I think in this social media age, we’re dealing with a lot of specific challenges for women with all of this online hate on social media,” Read said.
As for social media, Gaetz herself used to be a vocal and active participant on Facebook but the continued badgering and harassment she received on the website led to her abandon the platform. She is still active on Twitter with 4,599 followers, where she points to the positive things going on in the city.
Canada Lands sure knows how to throw a party! The neighborhood showed up for great music and a… http://t.co/5AhBBxlfeX— Sharon Gaetz (@sharongaetz) June 17, 2017
In the wake of Read’s harassment, and before news of Gaetz’s criminal matter, Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said publicly he is tired of nasty and abusive behaviour on Facebook and news sites.
Becker said he knows politicians are supposed to have thicker skin than others, but the level of viciousness online is only growing.
“To see this expanding into attacks on … my business. My children are attacked, my wife is attacked,” he said in a letter to the Maple Ridge News. “It’s mind-numbing… these private Facebook groups, and there’s no such thing (as private), and they’re doing it with impunity because no one else has had the guts to call them out and make them accountable.”
- with files from Maple Ridge News