Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre has publicly condemned the increase in church arson attacks across Canada, accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of contributing to the escalating division and animosity towards Christians. The critique comes amid reports of around 100 churches being targeted since early 2021. Poilievre contends that stronger security measures are essential for places of worship and advocates for harsher criminal charges against those convicted of arson.
The rise in church burnings followed the alleged discovery of “unmarked graves” at former residential schools run by the Church. Poilievre maintains that Canadians are entitled to a full investigation into these potential remains. He asserts that while the abusive actions of the state and the church regarding residential schools were horrendous, this fact does not justify these episodes of church arson.
The Trudeau government has faced criticism for lackluster action towards apprehending those behind the church burnings and for failing to address the root cause of these violent acts. Trudeau has stated the church burnings were “unacceptable and wrong”, but also “understandable.”
In December 2023 alone, four churches in Alberta were targeted by arsonists. Despite these incidents, a Conservative Party motion that would have condemned church burnings and acts of vandalism was rejected by Liberal and NDP Members of Parliament.