Tory MPs say journalist’s tweet incites violence


Conservative MPs have asked the Parliamentary Press Gallery to revoke an independent journalist’s access to the Hill after he posted a tweet they saw as a threat that could incite violence against politicians.

The controversy stems from Saskatchewan MP Garnett Genuis’ reference to the British band Queen during Question Period on Wednesday, as revealed by a search of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in London while singing the band’s song “Bohemian Rhapsody” on last weekend before the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

In a Twitter post Shortly after, Dale Smith, an accredited member of the press gallery, wrote: “Genuis is trying to include lyrics from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in his question, and I can’t tell you how bad it is. lame. When the horses are so lame, you shoot them.

On Thursday, Genuis, who represents Sherwood Park-Fort constituency, asked the House to revoke Smith’s privilege from the press corps, a request echoed by fellow MP Raquel Dancho, the party’s spokesperson for public safety, and Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer.

“This is incredibly serious, and I would ask that you give it your full attention and investigate what further action can be taken, Madam President. This comes at a time when we are increasingly aware of the threats of violence against MPs and politicians from all sides and all levels of government,” Dancho said.

“We have all met an aggressive person at the door, at events. When we walk down the street and remain silent, we don’t want to appear to be whining. We don’t want to complain about that. We certainly don’t want to encourage others to act in this threatening manner.

Just minutes ago, Genuis told the House he had real concerns for his safety around Smith, even though some people might consider the Twitter post a joke.

“Mr. Smith is currently an accredited member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, which gives him relatively free access to the Hill. So he may be up there in the press gallery at some point today. he can follow me down the halls or hang around outside our caucus waiting for me. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll meet someone who threatened me in the halls of Parliament “, he noted.

“This current reality of access is impacting my ability to perform my duties as a member.”

What Genuis claimed was a threat came after a series of incidents over the summer involving journalists, particularly women of color, and politicians being threatened and harassed by trolls, sometimes in public arenas.

When reached Thursday evening, Smith said he would not comment until the Speaker of the House issued a ruling.

However, in an earlier blog post, Smith called the conservatives’ response to his tweet a “bullying game.”

“If you criticize someone in their team, they declare that you are biased, even if you criticize every team. They scream and moan, in the hope that you will apologize and retract, then they will know that you are weak and they can silence you with these kinds of tactics,” Smith wrote, who offered no apology.

This latest tension between the Tories and the press follows a clash last week between their new leader Pierre Poilievre and Global News chief political correspondent David Akin over the politician’s initial refusal to answer questions after a press conference. hurry. Akin was described as a rowdy liberal.

In a statement, the press gallery said it wished to “dissociate” itself from the remarks made by Smith.

“We also wish to recall that we all, journalists and politicians, have the responsibility to promote healthy and professional public debates”, declared its president Guillaume St-Pierre, head of the parliamentary bureau of the “Journal de Montréal”.

“The Press Gallery would like to emphasize that bullying, in any form, is unacceptable.”

He maintained that the gallery operates independently of political interference and that it is not for politicians to determine who is or is not a member.

The House Speaker’s office said no decision had yet been made on the Tory MPs’ request.

Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based journalist who covers immigration for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung

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