Lethbridge MP says ‘many Canadians’ view prime minister as dictator

Conservative MP Rachael Thomas rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, June 4, 2021. An attempt by the Trudeau government to speed up controversial legislation to regulate online streaming services brought the House of Commons to a virtual standstill Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick. skp

On Monday, Lethbridge MP Rachael Thomas was asked to weigh in after a Saskatchewan MP referred to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a dictator.

“According to the Oxford dictionary, a dictator is a ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force,” Thomas said. “There are many Canadians that would believe, that would hold the view, that this does apply to Mr. Trudeau.”

Thomas’ remarks are creating a stir on social media, with many users denouncing her application of the term “dictator.”

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“They’re pretty over the top,” political sociologist Trevor Harrison said.

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Harrison believes the statement will play well with a small faction of voters, but will be dismissed by most Canadians.

“The misapplying of the definition she had to the actual situation did not fit at all the experience of most people in this country,” he said.

The backlash extends beyond Thomas. Several tweets about her comments reference Lethbridge specifically, calling the city “backwards” and the moment “embarrassing” for residents.

Global News requested a comment from city council to discuss any potential impact to the city’s image, but were told the “matter doesn’t involve the municipal government” and the city “has nothing to add.”

It’s not the first time Thomas has courted controversy. In a Nov. 2020 Facebook post, she questioned whether COVID-19 deaths involving comorbidities should be included in the pandemic’s death toll.

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Politically, Harrison calls the latest remarks a small incident and doesn’t expect it to have any local impact long-term.

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“The only thing that would hurt Ms. Thomas in the future would be if there’s kind of a pattern here of off-the-wall comments and people say: ‘This really speaks to the nature of this particular candidate,'” Harrison said.

Global News contacted Thomas’ Ottawa office requesting an interview, but that request was not returned.

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