B.C. Tory MP deletes tweet on ‘closeness’ of George Soros, Chrystia Freeland

Kerry-Lynne Findlay smiles while campaigning with then-Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, not shown, in Surrey, B.C., Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay is facing criticism after claiming that Canadians should be disturbed by the “closeness” between Canada’s finance minister and George Soros, an internationally known philanthropist who is frequently mentioned in far-right and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

On Saturday morning, Findlay shared another user’s tweet featuring a video of Chrystia Freeland, a former journalist, who was conducting an interview with Soros regarding former U.S. President Barack Obama and China.

“This is George Soros with Canada’s new Finance Minister a few years ago listening carefully to him like student to teacher. The closeness of these two should alarm every Canadian,” she wrote.

The tweet was deleted hours later following a backlash.

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Nothing to see here. Just a sitting Canadian MP sounding a full-on anti-semitic conspiracy dog whistle. Looking forward to seeing how, and how quickly, Erin O’Toole responds,” tweeted one critic.

Findlay, the Conservative party’s environment critic, deleted the tweet on Saturday afternoon and apologized for sharing content from an account supporting conspiracy theories.

She did not address the comments on Freeland and Soros specifically.

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“Earlier today, I thoughtlessly shared content from what I am now learning is a source that promotes hateful conspiracy theories. I have removed the tweets and apologize to anyone who thinks I would want to endorse hateful rhetoric,” she said.

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Asked for comment, the South Surrey-White Rock MP’s office referred Global News to Findlay’s apology.

Montreal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather was among those criticizing Findlay’s tweet. But he said he was happy she apologized.

“What’s scary about it is that you have somebody who’s so educated that is sending out a tweet, not realizing or being unaware of the fact that Soros being Jewish is well-known and his name has become a synonym for an anti-Semitic trope,” said Housefather.

Soros, a 90-year-old former financier from Hungary, is the founder of the Open Society Foundations, a liberal philanthropic group supporting democracy, education and human rights causes.

The group says Soros has given away $32 billion of his own fortune.

But his name is often invoked in online conspiracy theories that incorporate anti-Semitic tropes.

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“In far-right circles worldwide, Soros’ philanthropy often is recast as fodder for outsized conspiracy theories, including claims that he masterminds specific global plots or manipulates particular events to further his goals,” the Anti-Defamation League wrote in a 2018 article.

“Many of those conspiracy theories employ longstanding anti-Semitic myths, particularly the notion that rich and powerful Jews work behind the scenes, plotting to control countries and manipulate global events.”

Housefather said the incident should be used as a learning opportunity.

“I think a lot of people of good faith in Canada are frequently misled into conspiracy theories that have anti-Semitic backgrounds, or other backgrounds that are unacceptable, and they don’t realize it,” he said.

A spokesperson for Freeland’s office declined to comment.

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