Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry required RCMP to watch for threats against her as she participated in a luncheon supporting women’s health research earlier this year, according to documents on the B.C. government’s website.
A freedom of information request shows a thread of emails exchanged between luncheon organizers and venue staff, as well as RCMP, Dr. Henry herself and her office’s executive coordinator, leading up to the April 7 event at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver.
“Being at a nearby table [and] facing the audience would be fine…” a redacted contact from Richmond RCMP told Henry’s executive coordinator, adding, “We actually prefer this setup as it is our job to look/watch for threats…and not to look at the VIP.”
Organizers of the 21st annual BC Women’s Health Foundation’s Illumination Luncheon invited Henry to be the keynote speaker in hopes she would share her “experience and knowledge of the need for support of women’s health research,” states the invitation.
Henry’s office’s coordinator told the foundation that RCMP required one seat near the doctor to “ensure they are able to easily keep an eye on her.”
The police request followed Henry’s comments in September 2020, when she said she had to have security in her home after being targeted with death threats, along with abusive letters and phone calls to staff, amid B.C.’s COVID-19 response.
“It really is not acceptable,” Henry later said in February 2021. “What I find most disturbing is how it impacts the people I work with and my family and my close contacts and their concerns, so that’s the most challenging piece right now.”
She believed the ongoing abuse was partly due to her status as a woman in a high-profile position, and that people felt comfortable targeting her in ways they would not necessarily do to male leaders.