The Muslim witness who Conservative MP Michael Cooper lashed out at during a parliamentary hearing told Global News that Cooper’s behaviour was “un-Canadian” and called for him to be booted from the caucus.
Faisal Khan Suri, the president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, was dressed down by Cooper Tuesday last week during a hearing on online hate.
Suri said during the hearing that the online history of Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six people in Quebec City in 2017 and was sentenced to life in prison, showed that he repeatedly sought out “alt-right and conservative commentators.”
Suri also said that New Zealand mass shooting suspect Brenton Tarrant, who is accused of killing 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter were motivated by online hate coming from “alt-right online networks.”
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Cooper said in response that Suri should be “ashamed” of himself for linking conservatism to extremist attacks, saying the comments are “defamatory.”
“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 also quoted from Tarrant’s 74-page manifesto to prove he rejected “conservatism.”
Suri says it was “shocking” that Cooper read from the manifesto and his behaviour was unprofessional.
“I think that’s the deeply concerning issue we have, as a federal MP, to have such a document, a banned document in your possession and to read the words of a white extremist who murdered 51 innocent people at a national parliamentary committee … is truly concerning,” he said.
“It is very un-Canadian-like, and it is not something we expect the leaders of our nation to hold and to show.”
The manifesto is not banned in Canada but is in New Zealand.
Suri asserted that Cooper should no longer be a part of the Conservative caucus or retain his position as deputy justice critic.
“We truly ask how a person possessing such a document, reading such a document of a white extremist … retained his position as a caucus member and retained his position as a deputy justice critic,” Suri said. “Mr. Scheer has to do the right thing.”
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On Saturday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer removed Cooper from the Justice Committee and condemned him for using the manifesto, “especially when directed at a Muslim witness.”
Cooper apologized to Suri in a statement Saturday, saying it was a “mistake” to quote the manifesto.
With files from Mike Le Couteur