Conservative leader Andrew Scheer announced Saturday evening that he has removed a Conservative MP from the federal government’s Justice Committee after he lashed out at a Muslim witness during a hearing on online hate.
Scheer said he spoke to MP Michael Cooper about his comments earlier in the week, and decided to remove him from the committee as a consequence.
“Reading the name and quoting the words of the Christchurch shooter, especially when directed at a Muslim witness during a parliamentary hearing, is insensitive and unacceptable,” Scheer said in a tweet. “Mr. Cooper has apologized. I accept his apology and I consider the matter closed.”
On Tuesday, Cooper said Faisal Khan Suri, the president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, should “be ashamed” of himself for linking conservative commentators to Quebec mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette and the terror attacks in New Zealand.
Suri said that Bissonnette’s online history showed he repeatedly sought out “alt-right and conservative commentators” and encouraged more action on online hate.
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“The evidence from Bissonette’s computer showed he repeatedly sought content about anti-immigrant, alt-right and conservative commentators, mass murderers, U.S. President Donald Trump, and about Muslims, immigrants living in Quebec,” Suri said.
Bissonnette was given a life sentence in February for killing six people in a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.
In response, Cooper called Suri’s remarks “defamatory” for making the connection between conservatives and the mass shooters.
“I take great umbrage with your defamatory comments to try to link conservatism with violence and extremist attacks,” he said at the time. “They have no foundation. They are defamatory. And they diminish your credibility as a witness.”
Cooper read from the 74-page manifesto of New Zealand mass shooting suspect Brenton Tarrant, accused of killing 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, N.Z., to quote that he rejected “conservatism.”
He also mentioned the 2017 shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise, who was wounded along with four others by James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter.
Liberal and NDP MPs voiced their objections to Cooper’s comments, causing the hearing to be temporarily suspended.
“Mr. Chair, you cannot have a member of this committee calling for witnesses to be ashamed. That is unacceptable,” said NDP MP Tracey Ramsey.
Cooper later retracted his comment that Suri should be “ashamed” but stood by his statements that Suri’s testimony was “deeply offensive.”
-With files from Andrew Russell
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