N.L. Liberal leader possible target of man with knives arrested outside election candidate’s office

A man carrying several knives, who was reportedly motivated to “stop the election,” was arrested Tuesday outside a business in Deer Lake, N.L., which included the office of a local candidate, police said.

The campaign team for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey said the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary had told Furey he was likely the intended target.

The RCMP said in a news release that after a high-speed car chase, they arrested the man in a parking lot and seized a “large quantity of various knives” found inside his truck. The RCMP has declined an interview and requests for more details.

The force said they received reports of a man acting erratically in Bonne Bay on Newfoundland’s west coast, claiming he was headed to Deer Lake to “stop the election.” According to police, he also “made references to firearms.”

Officers said they found the man in a truck driving on Route 430, north of Cormack, and tried to stop him. The man didn’t pull over, but instead sped up, driving dangerously fast, police said.

According to the release, responding officers kept the truck in their sights during the chase, which lasted about 10 minutes.

Police said the man tore through Deer Lake before stopping in the parking lot of a business containing the office of a political candidate.

The campaign team for Liberal Leader Andrew Furey said Tuesday evening that they had been informed by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC), another police force in the province, that Furey was the likely target.

However, the Progressive Conservative campaign team said Tuesday in a statement that “after speaking with law enforcement, we do not believe the incident was targeted to any individual.”

CBC has requested more details from the RNC. 

Furey declined an interview Tuesday evening, as did Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie.

Furey campaigning in Labrador

The Liberal leader’s campaign team issued a statement on the alleged attempted attack.

“This is a traumatic incident, for everyone working and volunteering in Newfoundland and Labrador’s election. There is no place for violence in our society,” Furey’s campaign spokesperson said in an emailed statement. 

“Our team is connecting with the leadership of the other political parties and connecting with our team members on the ground in Deer Lake to offer support.

“The police investigation is ongoing, but from what we know so far we’d like to thank the members of the public who stepped in to do what they could to prevent an unimaginable outcome.”

Furey was campaigning Tuesday in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, and according to his itinerary, plans to stop in St. Anthony — about 400 kilometres from Deer Lake — on Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening, the New Democratic Party campaign team said they had postponed a planned policy announcement from leader Alison Coffin “in light of this evening’s events.”

Coffin was slated to speak in the St. John’s area Wednesday. That announcement has been pushed to Thursday, a campaign spokesperson said.

The spokesperson later clarified that Coffin is not concerned for her safety, and is “treating this as an isolated, if alarming, incident.”

Police said they expect to charge the man who was arrested with several criminal and traffic offences.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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