Montreal restaurant owner ignites controversy with Omar Khadr tweet

Joe Beef restaurant is shown in Montreal. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — The co-owner of a popular restaurant in Montreal has come under fire after tweeting about Omar Khadr and Canada’s prime minister on Thursday night.

Joe Beef co-owner David McMillan’s controversial tweet about Omar Khadr and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

After hearing about the release of Omar Khadr, David McMillan tweeted a standing invitation to supper at Joe Beef to the Toronto-born 28-year-old and former Guantanamo Bay inmate.

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READ MORE: Omar Khadr free on bail after 13 years in prison

Khadr was released on bail in Edmonton on Thursday after spending 13 years in prison. He was captured by the American Army in Afghanistan in July 2002, when he was 15 years old. He pleaded guilty in October 2010 before a widely discredited military commission to five war crimes – including murder in the death of a U.S. special forces soldier.

McMillan’s tweet also criticized Stephen Harper, calling him a “dumbass” after watching lawyer Dennis Edney speak at a press conference after Khadr’s release.

WATCH ABOVE: Omar Khadr’s lawyer finds it unusual the approach of the federal government in the case

During the conference, Edney was critical of Harper’s government, saying: “Mr. Harper is a bigot. Mr. Harper doesn’t like Muslims. Harper wants to show he’s tough on crime, and who does he pick on? A 15-year-old boy who was picked up and put in a hell hole in Guantanamo.”

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Twitter-storm of reaction

McMillan’s tweet unleashed a furious reaction from right-leaning media personality Ezra Levant, recently in the spotlight himself this week at the Mike Duffy trial in Ottawa.

READ MORE: Canadians have no right to seek bail pending appeal, feds argue in Omar Khadr case

Levant kicked off the hashtag campaign #boycottJoeBeef against the restaurant by comparing Khadr to the 25-year-old man who murdered 14 women and wounded 14 others at the École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989.

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Joe Beef co-owner apologizes

After reflecting on the fallout, McMillan has publicly apologized, saying that he was reacting in the moment and did not fully understand all of the facts of the story.

READ MORE: Timeline of the legal odyssey of Omar Khadr

“It was how I felt at that moment, I didn’t understand the full story. It was a dumb post. Apologies to all offended,” he shared on Twitter.

Will the boycott campaign have an effect on business? Only time will tell.

— With a file from Caley Ramsay

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