News / Edmonton

Conservative MP Laurie Hawn says his party crossed the line with West Edmonton Mall terror post

One of the federal Conservative Party’s own MPs says the party's use of the terror threat against West Edmonton Mall in a partisan Facebook post steps over the line.

On Monday, the party posted an image from an Al-Shabaab video that suggested a terrorist attack on West Edmonton Mall. Underneath the image was an encouragement to sign a petition.

“Jihadi terrorists are threatening Canada – we need to give our police and security forces the tools they need to protect us from the threat of terrorism,” reads the post.

Edmonton-Centre Conservative MP Laurie Hawn doesn’t think the post was appropriate.

“I would not have posted that if I were in charge,” he said Wednesday.

Hawn said terrorist threats have to be dealt with in a nuanced way.

“We have to be careful not to under-react – we have to treat the threat seriously and we have to be careful not to over-react,” he said.

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Thomas Lukaszuk, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs, was more direct in his critique, saying he didn’t appreciate the federal party using a threat against the city in a fundraising ploy.

“To actually put fear in people’s mind and drive tourism down is just not cool and I won’t stand for it,” Lukaszuk said.

In an email, Conservative Party spokesperson Cory Hann said they didn't intend to encourage people to avoid the mall, but the issue is real and has to be addressed.

“Canadians are being targeted by Jihadi terrorists simply because these terrorists hate our society and the values it represents. This is a reality. Jihadi terrorism is not a human right; it is an act of war,” Hann wrote. “That is why our Government has put forward measures that protect Canadians against Jihadi terrorists who seek to destroy the very principles that make Canada the best country in the world to live.”

In a statement, Edmonton MP Rona Ambrose's office made similar statements.

Robert Murray, vice-president of research with the Frontier Centre, said the Conservatives are simply trying to play to their strengths in an election year.

“Part of their message has to be and will be that they have been very effective at protecting Canadians,” he said.

He said parties of all stripes are not opposed to trying to use current events to garner more political support.

“It’s not unusual for political parties to try to use tactics like this for political gain,” he said. “I don’t think it’s surprising I am not sure it’s in good taste."

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