A Metro Vancouver Liberal MP apologized on Tuesday for a social-media post that questioned whether there was a link between Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre and a fatal shooting in Manitoba.
Ken Hardie posted Monday that the weekend shooting, which left four people dead in Winnipeg, was “beyond troubling” and asked if it was connected to a “burn everything down” attitude creeping in from the United States.
His post on X, formerly known as Twitter, then referred to “the ‘creep’ on the Canadian side” and mentioned the official Opposition leader by name.
Hardie told The Canadian Press on Tuesday morning that he stood by his post and was not apologizing, though he conceded he could have used a better example to make the same point.
But he changed his tune hours later, following a meeting with Government House leader Karina Gould.
“It is absolutely inappropriate and that’s not something that anyone should be suggesting from any political party,” Gould had told reporters that morning, adding she planned to speak with Hardie about it.
After their conversation, Hardie said he came to realize his post was inappropriate, adding there was no connection between Poilievre and the Winnipeg killings.
“There was no link. None whatsoever. And so in that respect, posting it that way was entirely inappropriate on my part,” he told The Canadian Press.
“I did not know that’s the way it would be taken, but you know, that’s the reality that some people have. So, yeah, I do apologize for that.”
Hardie issued an apology on X Tuesday afternoon, but didn’t delete the original post.
Winnipeg police have said the investigation of the shooting that killed four people in the city’s downtown is in its infancy. No arrests have been made, suspects are still being determined and there is not yet any indication of a motive, police said.
Hardie said his post was meant to “plant a seed” with a series of questions to confront the attitude of the Conservative party, which he believes is creating an environment where people feel hopeless.
“The first reaction might be very hostile, and everything else, but it’s still in there,” Hardie said prior to apologizing.
“And people might start to, you know, in a quieter moment, think about a few things. That’s all it was really intended to do.”
Poilievre’s spokesman, Sebastian Skamski, said in a statement that Liberal MPs are desperate to make “disgusting and outlandish claims” to distract from the government’s “own disastrous record.”
He called the Liberal approach “gutter politics,” charging that “deranged comments like these aren’t one-off exceptions but rather (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau’s entire game plan.”
This is the second time in two months Hardie has apologized for his behaviour on social media.
Conservative deputy leader Melissa Lantsman called Hardie “unhinged” in her own social-media post on Monday, pointing to another post last month in which he said Nazi propagandist Josef Goebbels would be proud of Conservative MPs.
Hardie deleted the post and issued an apology in the House of Commons.
“I did go elbows up on Twitter, and I apologize for that,” he said on Oct. 5. “I did attempt to raise the issue the other day of the frequent misrepresentation coming from the Conservative side, but elbows up was a little too much in this case, and I apologize.”
Speaker Greg Fergus asked for a clearer apology, and Hardie responded: “Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. I apologize to the House.”
Hardie said on Tuesday that he thinks if he had used the name of former U.S. president Donald Trump in his earlier tweet, it wouldn’t have resulted in what he called “deserved backlash.”
The Liberal MP added that he doesn’t plan to change his approach to social media because of either incident.
“I will keep tweeting, absolutely. I think the essence of both of those tweets is to call attention to the practices and the strategies that the Conservatives are using that are damaging to democracy,” he said following his apology.
“It is unfortunate that I opened the door to having that message invalidated. But it isn’t an invalid message. It’s a message we need to pay attention to.”