After facing scorn on Twitter for his remarks on Greta Thunberg on Sunday, Bernier did not back down in an eight-part tweetstorm the following day.
He called Thunberg “the international mascot for climate alarmism” and claimed she is being used as “a convenient shield” by the left.
“@GretaThunberg is clearly mentally unstable,” he tweeted. “Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear. She wants us to feel the same: ‘I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I fear every day.'”
“My concern is not for @GretaThunberg’s feelings, but for the millions of Canadians and people in other countries who will be poorer, will suffer and have their lives upended if we let her and the movement she represents impose their radical ideas,” he later added.
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Former Ontario Liberal environment minister Glen Murray was among those who challenged Bernier.
“What is @MaximeBernier so afraid of?” he said.
“He fails to challenge one scientific fact or idea that @GretaThunberg is advocating for and then attack her character and mental health.”
Thunberg, a 16-year-old from Sweden, became a European celebrity last year when she refused to go to school in the weeks before the country’s general election to highlight the impact of climate change.
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She continued her school strike on Fridays after the election, spurring thousands of young people to follow suit. Since then, she’s met the pope, spoken at Davos and attended anti-coal protests in Germany.
She recently completed a zero-carbon transatlantic voyage to attend a New York climate change conference.
She is open about having Asperger’s syndrome and recently said on Twitter, “When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!
“Before I started school striking I had no energy, no friends and I didn’t speak to anyone. I just sat alone at home, with an eating disorder. All of that is gone now, since I have found a meaning, in a world that sometimes seems shallow and meaningless to so many people.”
Bernier, who has represented the riding of Beauce, Que., federally since 2006, plans to run a full slate of candidates in the upcoming fall election under his People’s Party banner.
The party refuses to accept the scientific consensus that global warming caused by human activity has put the future of the planet in serious jeopardy, according to its platform on the environment.
“Many renowned scientists continue to challenge this theory,” it states.
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Asked for comment about its leader’s statements, People’s Party of Canada spokesman Martin Masse said the tweets speak for themselves, and Bernier’s raising of Thunberg’s “mental condition” is “perfectly justifiable.”
“Her mental problems seem to be directly linked to the climate hysteria that she is pushing,” he said. “She admits that she is in a constant state of fear and panic and wants us to similarly panic in order to achieve the climate alarmist political goals she is fighting for.”
With files from the Associated Press