Conservative MPs call for freelance journalist to be booted from press gallery after tweet

Conservative MPs are calling for a freelance reporter to be removed from the parliamentary press gallery after he tweeted a comment they said risked inciting violence against politicians .

The issue flared up at one point during question time on Wednesday when Conservative MP Garnett Genuis quoted the band Queen as questioning inflation. The Queen reference was a dig at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was discovered singing Bohemian Rhapsody with members of the Canadian delegation last weekend before Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.

Dale Smith, a freelance member of the congressional press gallery, later tweeted that “Genuis tried to put lyrics from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ into his question and I can’t tell you it lame. How lame when these horses lame, you shoot them.”

Genuis appeared in the House of Commons on Thursday morning for a question of privilege. He called Smith’s comments “threatening” and beyond the bounds of conventional political discourse.

MP Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan said: “In the current climate, we should all be aware of the risks associated with explicitly inciting violence against public officials.

Liberal journalist Dale Smith sent this tweet on September 21, 2022, which Conservative MP Garnett Genuis called “threatening”. (Dale Smith / Twitter screenngrab)

“Some people will say he’s definitely joking but the problem with the so-called implied jokes threatening public officials is that I, as the target of these comments, [am] is somehow supposed to understand and agree to a threat on the basis of someone’s presumptive intentions. And I am not satisfied with this. “

Genuis said Smith’s recognition in the press gallery gives him access to West Block’s halls. He called on the gallery to revoke those privileges.

“The reality of my current access rights affects my ability to perform my functions as a member,” Genuis said.

He was supported by Conservative MP Raquel Dancho, the party’s public safety critic and Conservative House of Commons Leader Andrew Scheer in asking the Speaker to consider suspending Smith’s privileges pending the meeting. investigate whether he should be permanently removed from the gallery.

Assistant Speaker Carol Hughes said Speaker will look into the matter and provide an answer.

Smith says he owes ‘no apology’

In a blog post Thursday morning, Smith called the tweet a “non-original joke” and denied he was insinuating Genuis should be shot.

“I didn’t do that and I don’t owe him anything.

Smith then accused the Conservatives of playing a “game of intimidation.”

“If you criticize anyone on their team, they claim that you are biased, even though you criticize every team,” he wrote.

“They howl and moan, in the hope that you apologize and back off, then they know you’re weak and they can silence you with these kinds of tactics.”

By Thursday afternoon, Smith said he was waiting to speak with the press gallery president before commenting further.

The comeback comes as reporters – especially journalists of color – cover an increase in harassment and abuse.

Over the course of weeks, many journalists have publicly shared a series of emails they received containing specific, targeted, and disturbing threats of sexual assault and violence, along with racist language. and deviant.

Politicians have also come under attack in recent years. MPs from both sides of the aisle condemned an incident last month that saw Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland loudly accuse in Alberta by a man who repeatedly yelled at her and called her a traitor. multiple.

Last month, Trudeau called on political leaders to condemn acts of aggression and intimidation against politicians, and warned that Canada could be forced to “rethink” the way officials elected officials and the public can safely interact.

“We need the connection we’re proud of [on]about how Canadians can be close to the people who represent them,” Trudeau told reporters outside Rideau Hall.

“But the aggressive, hateful bullying tactics of a few are making us rethink the freedoms we already have as MPs.”

VIEW | Journalists of color say death threats are part of a concerted effort to silence them:

Black journalists say death threats are part of a concerted effort to silence them

Many female journalists of color are speaking out about the increase in death threats due to racism and sexual violence they have received. They say it was a targeted and coordinated effort to silence them and that the police weren’t doing enough.

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