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Meeting with a far-right politician | Two deputies reluctant to confirm their “regrets”



(OTTAWA) Two Conservative MPs remain tight-lipped about whether they regret meeting with a German politician, while their leader, Pierre Poilievre, has maintained they regret it.

Neither Leslyn Lewis nor Dean Allison would say whether they agreed with their leader’s description of their feelings about the decision to have a meal with MEP Christine Anderson, Member of the European Parliament. of the “Alternative for Germany” party.

This right-wing populist party has been under scrutiny as a suspected extremist group in Germany since 2021. The party has been criticized for downplaying Nazi crimes, opposing immigration and promoting an anti-Muslim ideology.

The German politician visited Canada in February as part of a tour organized by supporters of last winter’s ‘freedom convoy’. This group demonstrated a year ago around Parliament Hill and at border crossings to protest against vaccine passports and health restrictions, and more broadly against the government of Justin Trudeau.

Mme Anderson had supported the protesters at the time and she spoke out against Justin Trudeau.

Bethan Nodwell is one of the organizers of her visit to Canada and her meeting with three Conservative MPs over a meal last week. She said their discussion focused on Mr. Trudeau, vaccines, the convoy and pandemic-related health restrictions, such as lockdowns.

Mme Nodwell said the meeting lasted about two hours and “we parted ways with smiles and waves.”

Photos of the meal began circulating on social media last week. In particular, we saw Lewis, Mr. Allison and another Conservative MP, Colin Carrie, with Anderson.

The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs said it raised its concerns directly with the Conservative Party, and the Center for Friends of Simon Wiesenthal also condemned the meeting.

Both organizations said it was “deeply concerning” and “disturbing” that elected officials in Canada are meeting Anderson as his party espouses ‘Islamophobic’ and ‘hateful views’.

A written statement

Mr. Poilievre’s cabinet responded by issuing a statement from the Leader of the Official Opposition, saying it would have been better if Anderson never came to Canada, and that her deputies were unaware of her views and “regretted meeting her”.

In the same email, the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition also included a statement from the three MPs. It is pointed out that while it is not uncommon for elected officials to meet colleagues from other countries, the three Conservative MPs were not “aware of the opinions or associations between her and her political party”.

“We do not share or endorse his views and strongly condemn all racist or hateful views,” their statement read.

Colin Carrie, who represents the riding of Oshawa, Ont., tweeted hours later that he “deeply” regretted meeting Anderson “without asking the advice of my staff” and without taking a closer look at who he was about to meet.

The offices of Allison and Mr. Lewis, however, did not respond to direct questions about the veracity of Mr. Poilievre’s claim that they regretted attending the meeting.

A spokesman for Mr Poilievre also did not say how the leader confirmed the MPs’ regrets.

A staff member from the office of Mme Lewis provided The Canadian Press with a statement from the MP on Monday in which she reiterated that her job requires her to meet with foreign officials “quite frequently” and that she “often does not share the views of those officials or their party”.

The Ontario MP went on to defend her record as a lawyer, where she claims to have championed the rights of immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community. “Before becoming an MP, one of my fields of practice was human rights and as such, I have always condemned, and I continue to do so, any racist or hateful opinion,” says Lewis.

“As an immigrant to Canada, I myself am fortunate to have grown up here in Canada and seen firsthand the vital role that immigration plays, both for us as Canadians and for those seeking to build a better life. »

Mme Lewis took to social media last week to dismiss Mr Trudeau’s criticism of his meeting with Anderson. She stressed that she did not accept accusations of racism from someone who has already worn the “black face”.

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