“Freedom has come under attack in New Zealand as peaceful worshippers are targeted in a despicable act of evil. All people must be able to practice their faith freely and without fear,” his statement, which was posted on his Twitter page, read.
“There are no words strong enough to condemn this kind of vile hatred. I am praying for peace for the families of those lost and recovery for those injured,” it continued.
Replies to the tweet questioned why the Conservative Party leader hadn’t mentioned the word “Muslim” in his condemnation of the attack.
Canada’s immigration minister, Ahmed Hussen, took the opportunity at a candlelight vigil held in Toronto commemorating the victims of the attack to take a veiled swipe at Scheer.
WATCH: World reacts to Christchurch terror attack at two mosques
“We should never be afraid to name the victims and to name the religion and to name the places of worship that people are targeted in,” Hussen said.
The minister also told the crowd the Trudeau government will stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
Scheer released a second statement just a few hours later, expressing sadness at the lives lost in the attack and “profound condemnation of this cowardly and hateful attack on the Muslim community.”
“Houses of worship, like the two mosques attacked last night, should be places where all people can meet freely and without fear. We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters to ensure that they remain this way. We must condemn, in the strongest terms possible, the type of extreme and vile hatred that motivated this despicable act of evil,” the second statement read.
The attack on two mosques in the Christchurch and Canterbury areas of New Zealand on Thursday evening left 49 dead, including children, and injured over 40 others.
The gunman is believed to have killed 41 people at the Al Noor mosque before driving about five kilometres across town and attacking the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more people. One person died later in a hospital.
The tragedy marks the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand’s modern history.
—With files from the Associated Press