By Emma McIntosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
New Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole says he didn’t issue a statement about an offensive tweet from one of his MPs because it was taken down before he saw it.
MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the party’s environment critic, retweeted a video Saturday morning of Liberal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland interviewing George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist who is often the subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, in 2009 when Freeland was a journalist. Canadians should be “alarmed” by Freeland and Soros’ closeness, Findlay wrote in the since-deleted post.
“When I found out about it, the tweet was already down and Ms. Findlay had apologized for it,” O’Toole told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday when asked why he didn’t make a statement about the incident.
O’Toole didn’t answer when asked if he had spoken to Findlay about it. But he said he did call “some leaders from the Jewish community,” and said Conservatives under his leadership would continue to be strong advocates against anti-Semitism.
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre retweeted Findlay’s post Saturday, but hasn’t commented publicly.
Findlay apologized in a followup tweet, but didn’t address her comments about Freeland and Soros. “Earlier today, I thoughtlessly shared content from what I am now learning is a source that promotes hateful conspiracy theories. I have removed the tweets and apologize to anyone who thinks I would want to endorse hateful rhetoric,” she wrote Saturday afternoon.
On Wednesday, O’Toole announced his core parliamentary team, naming Manitoba MP Candice Bergen as the party’s deputy leader.
Bergen previously served as Conservative house leader, a pivotal role that leads the party’s day-to-day duties in the House of Commons. Quebec MP Gerard Deltell will replace Bergen in that role.
Meanwhile, MP Richard Martel will be O’Toole’s political lieutenant for Quebec.
O’Toole’s house leadership team also includes MPs from Alberta and Ontario, but none from British Columbia.
The new leader said his party is the “government in waiting,” echoing words uttered by former leader Andrew Scheer on election night in 2019, and said he’s working on a new shadow cabinet and having discussions about writing a new platform.
“Conservatives are united and passionate to get to work,” O’Toole said.
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