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Today we remember Montreal by reflecting on 'Lock her up'

Saturday's chant is just a small sampling of the way violence is becoming normalized in Alberta's political discourse.

Despite her work helping win cabinet approval for pipelines, a group of ralliers on Saturday who dislike a carbon tax suggested Alberta Premier Rachel Notley be put in jail.

Canadian Press file

Despite her work helping win cabinet approval for pipelines, a group of ralliers on Saturday who dislike a carbon tax suggested Alberta Premier Rachel Notley be put in jail.

On December 6, 1989, Marc Lepine walked into Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique armed with a legally obtained rifle and killed 14 women. 

"You’re all feminists. I hate feminists,” he said, before shooting the women.

A few months ago, an Albertan man tweeted at me that, “Feminists don’t deserve to live" — a chilling reminder to me that these radicalized attitudes aren't as uncommon as we may think. 

His tweet was soon joined by dozens expressing deep, gendered rage at MLA Sandra Jansen's decision to cross the floor to the NDP (I won't repeat those). 

And then came Saturday.

A crowd of people gathered at the Alberta legislature to protest the carbon tax the NDP government has created. And though protests are part of a healthy democracy, things turned dark.

"Lock her up, lock her up," some protesters chanted, lazily borrowing language from the U.S. presidential campaign in which president-elect Donald Trump used an issue over deleted emails to insinuate that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, deserved to go to prison. 

While this was happening, federal Conservative leadership hopeful Chris Alexander stood on the steps holding the microphone. Alexander smiled, pointed and moved his hands conductor like along to the chants and didn't stop them.  

Later, he meekly suggested an alternative — "vote her out." 

Alexander later told reporters that he felt uncomfortable with the refrain. 

After much outcry, Jason Kenney (who wasn't at the rally) and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean (who was) both denounced the chant.

Notley is currently in British Columbia, helping win support from that province for one of the two pipelines she helped get cabinet approval for. But she's still faced the wrath of a crowd of people who seem determined to despise her, whatever she does. 

Saturday's chant is just a small sampling of the way violence is becoming normalized in Alberta's political discourse.

Violence, you ask? Yes. Jailing someone for holding beliefs different from yours is an act of violence. And far too often, this language isn't taken seriously. 

By way of example: I received threats for writing this column ("Your columnist can go ****ing die," one person said, in a phone message to Metro, along with threatening tweets), but the police officer who took my complaint told me he thought there "would be more" to it. 

At the time, I was silent, but later joked that when some angry man killed me, they could name a new law after me. 

So, in light of the lock her up chants, on the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, we should remember women bear the brunt of violence in our society. 

Last year, the Alberta Council for Women’s shelters admitted 5,418 abused women, and turned 8,076 others away because of a lack of room. 

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," wrote Edward Burke.

It took a very long time for leaders to denounce the chants Saturday. On the anniversary of Montreal, let's all agree that doing nothing is actually doing something — in the wrong direction.

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