Rebel News personality David Menzies was arrested Monday for allegedly assaulting a police officer while trying to ask Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland questions about the government’s decision to leave the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) off the designated terrorist entity list.
Charges dropped after police found ‘no credible security threat,’ York Regional Police say
John Paul Tasker · CBC News
· Posted: Jan 09, 2024 2:28 PM EST | Last Updated: 11 hours ago
Rebel News personality David Menzies was arrested by police Monday after asking Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland questions at an event to mark the downing of Flight PS752. (Rebel News/X)Rebel News personality David Menzies was arrested Monday for allegedly assaulting a police officer while trying to ask Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland questions about the government’s decision to leave the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) off the designated terrorist entity list.
The website posted a video of Menzies briefly colliding with a police officer in Richmond Hill, Ont., while trying to question Freeland about the IRGC at an event to mark the destruction of Flight PS752, a Ukrainian International Airlines jetliner that was destroyed by the Iranian military in January 2020 — an attack that killed dozens of Canadians.
The video of Monday’s encounter appears to show an officer stepping into Menzies’ path while the media personality was carrying his microphone in the parking lot of a suburban strip mall.
That officer subsequently grabbed Menzies by his lapels, pushed him against a wall and accused him of assault while putting him under arrest.
“Police — you’re under arrest for assault. You pushed into me, sir,” the unidentified officer said.
WATCH | Rebel News personality arrested while trying to question Chrystia Freeland:
Rebel News personality arrested while trying to question Chrystia FreelandVideo shows police arresting Rebel News personality David Menzies as he attempts to ask Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland questions about why the government hasn’t designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity. (Video courtesy Rebel News)
“I didn’t touch a single person,” Menzies said in response.
“This is a trumped-up charge of assault, folks. I didn’t come here to cause any trouble. I came here to do my job and now I’m handcuffed. This is your Canada now, folks. This is the gestapo taking blackface’s orders,” Menzies continued — an apparent reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who also attended the event.
Menzies asked the officer for his name and badge number but answers to those questions — if they were provided — aren’t audible on the tape.
The officer in the video was later identified by a York Regional Police spokesperson as a member of the RCMP protective detail.
“The arrest of the Rebel News reporter was made by the prime minister’s RCMP security detail. York Regional Police officers assisted as the interaction took place in our region,” the spokesperson said.
“It was determined that no credible security threat existed and the subject was released unconditionally shortly thereafter.”
Menzies questions Freeland at the event marking the destruction of Flight PS752. (Rebel News/X)A spokesperson for the RCMP said “protective policing resources were involved in an incident while deployed on a protective operation.”
“The RCMP is looking into the incident and the actions of all parties involved. No further comment is available at this time,” the spokesperson said.
Freeland, who has been the target of threats and tense public confrontations in the past, is routinely monitored by police for her safety.
Previous run-ins with policeThe finance minister ignored Menzies’ questions and did not say anything as the arrest unfolded.
Menzies is a provocative figure who has had run-ins with police and security services in the past — including an apprehension by Trudeau’s protective detail at a Toronto event in 2021.
Menzies was also arrested for a 2021 encounter with now Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman in Thornhill, Ont.
Lantsman, who is a lesbian, said Menzies’ questions “became homophobic and related to my sexual orientation.”
Menzies was also removed from a 2019 campaign event for then-Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
An RCMP officer removes Menzies during a campaign stop for then-Conservative leader Andrew Scheer at the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ont., on Sept. 30, 2019. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)Rebel News widely shared video of the latest incident, advertising “SHOCK FOOTAGE” on its website.
“Chrystia Freeland’s bodyguards assault and arrest David Menzies when he asks her a question,” said a headline on the website.
“The police lied about the assault. They’re the ones who assaulted him,” the website claimed in its post about the incident.
According to data from X, formerly Twitter, parts of the video have been seen by millions of social media users.
Rebel News founder considering legal actionReached by email Tuesday, Ezra Levant, the founder and owner of Rebel News, said he and Menzies are considering legal action against the police for what transpired.
“We have not yet finalized our legal strategy, but at this point I would expect that we will sue both the RCMP and the York Regional Police, as well as Chrystia Freeland, for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and assault,” Levant told CBC News.
WATCH | Hear what the Power Panel had to say:
The political optics around the arrest of Rebel News employee | Power & PoliticsThe Mounties are facing criticism for arresting Rebel News personality David Menzies as Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland arrived at an event Monday. Charges were later dropped after police found ‘no credible security threat,’ York Regional Police say. The Power Panel weighs in on the political optics of the arrest.
“These government defendants will have unlimited public resources, whereas we take no public funds. Therefore we will crowdfund David’s litigation.”
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre condemned the arrest, reposting a video of the incident with the message: “This is the state of freedom of the press. In Canada. In 2024. After eight years of Trudeau.”
Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu, the party’s civil liberties critic, said in a media statement she wants the House of Commons heritage committee to be recalled from its winter break to study the matter and “demand transparency and accountability” regarding Menzies’ arrest.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
J.P. Tasker is a journalist in CBC’s parliamentary bureau who reports for digital, radio and television. He is also a regular panellist on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics. He covers the Conservative Party, Canada-U.S. relations, Crown-Indigenous affairs, climate change, health policy and the Senate. You can send story ideas and tips to J.P. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow J.P. on X