(LONDON) An Ontarian who threw gravel at Justin Trudeau during the 2021 election campaign was given a 90-day suspended jail sentence on Monday.
Shane Marshall, 26, of St. Thomas, Ont., was also sentenced to one year of probation.
Judge Kevin McHugh of the Ontario Court in London said Monday that Marshall’s “serious assault” on the prime minister was not an expression of his political beliefs, but a manifestation of ” mob spirit” which, “if left unchecked, allows anarchy to prevail”.
Marshall, initially charged with assault with a weapon, eventually pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of common assault in March as his case was due to go to trial — and after a failed attempt to get Mr. Trudeau to testify.
The former People’s Party of Canada constituency manager admitted he threw gravel at Mr. Trudeau as the Liberal leader boarded his campaign bus in London after a partisan rally was disrupted by protesters.
Mr. Trudeau had received gravel, but he had not been injured, the judge said.
Marshall’s attorney on Monday called the sentence fair and balanced, saying his client recognized the seriousness and potential danger of his actions. “He obviously needs to reconsider the way he handles his political positions,” said Luke Reidy.
The defense had suggested to the judge a one-year suspended sentence and community service. The Crown was asking for a 30-day prison sentence, in order to effectively deter any act of violence during the election campaigns.
Justice McHugh said on Monday that acts of violence against public figures are “undemocratic and must be denounced in the strongest terms.”
In deciding Marshall’s sentence, Judge McHugh considered the case of a man who received a 60-day suspended prison sentence for threatening to kill Mr. Trudeau during the same 2021 campaign.
The judge also cited “piecing” targeting Prime Ministers Jean Chretien and Ralph Klein. The man who slashed Chrétien in 2000 was sentenced to 30 days in prison, but then only served eight days after appealing his sentence, Judge McHugh said.
Throughout his suspended sentence, Marshall will be required to remain at home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for medical appointments or with the permission of his probation officer. The judge also ordered Marshall to avoid contact with Mr. Trudeau. The sentence also includes a five-year weapons ban.
“In a very public and tangible way, (the defendant) threatened the freedoms and sense of security that we all hold dear in this country,” the judge concluded.
The People’s Party of Canada said after the incident that it removed Marshall as president of the riding association after viewing footage.
Maxime Bernier’s party was campaigning on a platform that included drastically reducing the number of refugees and immigrants welcomed to Canada, and the repeal of COVID-19 vaccine passports.
The Liberal leader’s campaign in 2021 had been regularly disrupted by demonstrators who denounced the Trudeau government’s health measures.