Poilievre condemns “disgusting” views of German politicians seen having lunch with Conservative MPs
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre is trying to distance his party from a far-right German politician whose views have been condemned as hateful and racist and who was photographed having lunch with three Conservative MPs earlier this week.
Christine Anderson, Member of the European Parliament for the German party Alternative for Germany (AfD), is on a tour of Canada ending in Montreal tonight.
Photos surfaced online Tuesday showing Anderson at a restaurant with a group that included three Conservative MPs – Niagara West MP Dean Allison, Oshawa MP Colin Carrie and Haldimand-Norfolk MP Leslyn Lewis.
The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which bills itself as an advocate for Jewish associations across Canada, condemned the gathering and tweeted Thursday that it had raised the issue with the Conservative Party of Canada.
Anderson’s views ‘not welcome here’
On Friday, Sebastian Skamski, head of media relations at the opposition leader’s office, issued a statement attributed to Poilievre:
“Christine Anderson’s views are abhorrent and have no place in our politics. MEPs were unaware of the opinion of this visiting MEP and they regret meeting her,” the statement said.
“Honestly, it would be better if Anderson had never visited Canada at all. They and their racist, hateful views are not welcome here.”
Poilievre’s office issued a separate statement attributed to the three MPs photographed with Anderson.
“Of course, it is not uncommon for MPs to meet with visiting elected officials from other countries. During a recent visit, we met with an elected representative of the European Parliament while she was in Canada,” the statement said.
“We were not aware of the views or associations of her and her political party. We do not share or support their views and we strongly condemn any racist or hateful views.”
CBC News has contacted the offices of all three MPs for further comment, but they have not yet responded. Carrie tweeted about Friday’s meeting.
“I deeply regret attending a meeting without gathering input from my staff and without conducting a thorough screening of the individuals or organizations I was meeting with – which is my usual practice. I alone am responsible for this mistake. I’ll do better,” he wrote in his tweet.
Calling his former colleagues on Twitter, former Conservative Cabinet Secretary Chris Alexander said he accepted the explanation that they were unaware of Anderson’s views, but said they should have been.
“We don’t need these extremes in our mainstream parties,” Alexander said. “I think MPs made a mistake and it needed to be pointed out.”
Poilievre denies speaking to Anderson
In a video posted online Feb. 19 by a Western Standard journalist, Anderson is asked her opinion on Poilievre. She replies that she has spoken to the Conservative leader “a couple of times”.
“He seems like a decent guy,” she continues. “We need people who really think and reflect on what democracy is about and what elected officials should be doing.”
But Skamski said Anderson’s claims were false and that Poilievre never spoke to her.
“Mr. Poilievre has never spoken to Christine Anderson and any suggestion he has is categorically wrong,” Skamski said in an email.
In another video that appeared online Friday afternoon, Anderson is asked to respond to Poilievre’s statement that it would have been better if she hadn’t visited Canada.
“I am very sorry that Mr. Poilievre feels this way,” Anderson says, adding that she had a “good time” meeting members of his party.
She also denies expressing “hateful and racist views,” as Poilievre accused her.
“I’m very sorry he feels this way, but nobody can define me, not even Mr. Poilievre,” she says in the clip. “You can’t define me. I know what I stand for, I know what I’m fighting for, and I know I will never respond to a democratic leader or an elected government that does not act in the best interests of the people.”
Trudeau calls conservative “pattern”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the condemnation on Friday, criticizing Conservatives for what he called a “pattern” of similar incidents.
“I think the Conservative Party of Canada owes some explanations to Canadians,” Trudeau said.
“Consistently we see Conservative MPs and people who should know better associate themselves with people responsible for a particularly heinous level of rhetoric and hate, and their response is always the same, ‘Oh, we didn’t know. ‘
“At some point Canadians have to stop being treated like fools and Conservatives have to admit and either genuinely distance themselves from hateful, vile, intolerant rhetoric, or tell the truth and declare that they do indeed have room for that rhetoric and intolerance within theirs.” Political party.”
Anderson beat up Trudeau in Brussels
Anderson’s tour, titled Strong and Free, stopped in Calgary on February 18, Toronto on February 21, and Whitby, Ontario on February 22.
On Friday, Anderson will attend a private event at an undisclosed location in Montreal, where her guest speaker will be a Laval University professor who has been suspended for vaccine comments. Your guests in Calgary and Toronto have similar stories.
Anderson has endeared himself to certain right-wing groups in Canada, including those opposed to COVID-19 mandates, and was photographed in Calgary with Tamara Lich and other organizers of last winter’s Convoy protests.
She is no stranger to Canadian politics. Last March, Anderson, the political spokesman for the Identity and Democracy (ID) Group, called Trudeau “a disgrace to any democracy” when addressing the European Parliament in Brussels.
Anderson accused Trudeau of trampling on the civil rights of protesters and called him a dictator who treats his own citizens as “terrorists”.
Anderson’s AfD has been described by the BBC as a far-right political party using rhetoric “tinged with Nazi undertones”.
Oliver Schmidtke, a University of Victoria professor who studies far-right populist parties, including the AfD, said the party started out as a more moderate conservative party. But later “it morphed into a more anti-immigrant, homophobic, and — at times — openly racist political party.”
Schmidtke said Anderson himself belonged to “the far-right camp” of the AfD.
“She’s a fairly vocal advocate of issues based mostly on issues of identity, German nationalism and what the AfD sees as a threat to that very national identity,” he said.
Around the time of Trudeau’s appearance in Brussels, a German court had described Anderson’s party as a “suspicious threat to democracy” after an administrative court in Cologne had found “sufficient evidence of anti-constitutional goals within the AfD”.
The parliamentary group to which the AfD belongs consists of political parties opposed to the European Union. They also represent far-right positions on issues such as immigration and welfare.
In March 2020, the head of the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution placed an AfD parliamentary group under surveillance and said: “Right-wing extremism and right-wing terrorism are currently the greatest threat to democracy in Germany.”