Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says he is denouncing “abuse” and sexually threatening language against his wife allegedly made by Jeremy Mackenzie, the de-facto leader of a far-right group called Diagolon whose adherents have waged a social media abuse campaign against female journalists for months.
In a statement posted on Twitter Monday morning, Poilievre said he had been made aware of “disgusting comments made by Jeremy McKenzie and another man, where they discuss sexually assaulting my wife.”
He called the men “odious” and “losers,” and added he has reported the comments to police.
In the video, a social media account of “Jeremy Mackenzie” can be seen lighting up as the speaker before a man can be heard talking about Anaida Poilievre as he and co-hosts debate her ethnic background, before he goes on to say: “let’s rape her.”
“It’s not really a sex thing, we just want to show people we can do things to you if we want to,” he adds.
Global News attempted to contact Mackenzie on Monday about the threats allegedly made against Anaida Poilievre. No response has yet been received.
The Canadian Press reported Monday afternoon that in an interview with Mackenzie, he said he was drinking when he made the comments and nobody meant any harm by it.
Poilievre said in his statement that he had not known about Diagolon until “about a month ago.”
Global News sent a list of questions to Poilievre’s Conservative leadership campaign back in July, shortly after he attended an anti-COVID public health measures march with a man called James Topp, who had previously appeared on an episode of Mackenzie’s podcast in January in which the latter described wanting to “bring down the government.”
Co-hosts of that episode also described wanting “to assemble the gallows on f—ing Parliament.”
When asked if Poilievre was concerned that supporting figures like Topp who have appeared on Mackenzie’s podcast could be interpreted as support for far-right views, and whether he would denounce comments by Mackenzie’s co-host about wanting to see a gallows on Parliament Hill, Poilievre attacked Global News.
His campaign posted a 238-word statement accusing Global News of being “unprofessional” and attempting to set “disingenuous traps.”
“Your tactic seems to be to demand Mr. Poilievre answer for all the words and deeds of not just everyone he has ever met, but also everyone they have ever met,” his campaign said. “Each of those people is individually responsible for their own words and deeds.”
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Poilievre faced questions last month after a photo circulated online showing him shaking Mackenzie’s hand at a campaign event in Nova Scotia. A spokesperson for Poilievre said on Aug. 20 that he has “shaken hands with literally tens of thousands of people at public rallies.”
“It is impossible to do a background check on every single person who attends my events,” Poilievre’s campaign team said in response to Global News’ request for comment on Aug. 20.
“I didn’t and don’t know or recognize this particular individual.”
Over recent weeks, an ongoing torrent of abuse, threats and hate against the journalist in question and other female Canadian journalists covering the far-right has continued to escalate, including from supporters of Diagolon and Mackenzie himself.
“You deserve worse and with the trajectory you’re on, you’ll get it,” Mackenzie tweeted on Aug. 12 about the onslaught of threats against female journalists covering the far-right.
He also urged his thousands of followers: “Hate them as hard as you can.”
His account was suspended shortly after and remains so.
Diagolon took on additional prominence during the convoy blockades earlier this year, particularly the blockade in Coutts, Alta. RCMP said at the time they had become aware of a small, organized group that had “a willingness to use force against the police.”
In a subsequent raid, Mounties uncovered 13 long guns, handguns, a machete, a large quantity of ammunition and body armour. They also found two tactical vests — adorned with what Canadian Anti-Hate Network researchers believe were Diagolon patches.
Mackenzie has denied the patches are affiliated with his group.
Global News obtained the City of Ottawa permit application for the march Poilievre attended alongside Topp last month. Listed as the “primary event contact” on the form was Stephanie McEvoy, a woman who described herself online in social media posts as “pro-ProudBoy.”
The Proud Boys are a listed terrorist entity in Canada.
Poilievre’s campaign did not respond to questions at the time asking if he knew McEvoy was involved.
Topp’s lawyer has served Global News with a complaint about a previous Global News article and indicated that any statement suggesting Topp is a “a member of the far-right” or an “extremist” is false and defamatory.
With files from Global News’ Rachel Gilmore.