Two federal cabinet ministers took to Twitter to share their thoughts on a Tim Hortons controversy this week, but not on a landmark report into Canada's residential school system.
Alberta Conservative MPs Michelle Rempel and Jason Kenney, both voracious tweeters, jumped into the fray of the #BoycottTims campaign Thursday.
The social media movement began after the coffee giant announced ads for Enbridge would no longer be shown on screens at more than 1,500 locations.
Tim Hortons' decision was evidently made in response to a petition launched by consumer advocacy group SumOfUs. The move ruffled plenty of feathers, particularly among those in Alberta's energy sector.
Rempel, the minister of state for Western economic diversification and MP for Calgary Centre-North, jumped online to say the company sent a message to Canadian energy workers.
— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) June 4, 2015
And Kenney, Canada's defence minister and MP for Calgary Southeast, got involved at the request of Stephen Taylor, whose ties to federal Tories were later outlined by BuzzFeed Canada.
Rempel even had something of a Twitter spat with Gerald Butts after the top adviser to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau seemed to make light of the campaign.
Tim Hortons v Enbridge. With Ministers of the Crown choosing sides. The Harper Decade has been a long one indeed. #cdnpoli— Gerald Butts (@gmbutts) June 4, 2015
Rempel tweeted a link to a statement from a Liberal candidate in Alberta calling on Tim Hortons to reverse its decision, sparking a lively exchange with Butts.
Unfortunately his leader's spokesperson doesn't share his position so.....? https://t.co/R4mHf6x3Z6— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) June 4, 2015
Nope. We don't do things that way, Minister. Our candidates don't have to wait to be told what to think. https://t.co/Slst1HAucT— Gerald Butts (@gmbutts) June 4, 2015
Wondering if this applies to their leader. https://t.co/rrY7mrbnXd— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) June 4, 2015
Oh, Michelle. You are better than that. https://t.co/OXxvEPwoVd— Gerald Butts (@gmbutts) June 4, 2015
You started it ;). Truce? https://t.co/utX5N83SZM— Michelle Rempel (@MichelleRempel) June 4, 2015
NDP MP Charlie Angus, never one to pull punches, jumped online to call the involvement of Tory ministers "bat shit crazy."
Definition of bat shit crazy? Conservative ministers boycotting Tim Hortons claiming "line in the sand" time. Yozzers @MichelleRempel— Charlie Angus MP (@CharlieAngusMP) June 4, 2015
As Calgary MPs, Kenney and Rempel are both proud proponents of the oilsands.
Other federal cabinet ministers from Alberta — Health Minister Rona Ambrose, Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal, and Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson — did not join in on the debate.
The furor over Tim Hortons comes days after the TRC released a report concluding the treatment of aboriginals in the residential school system was "cultural genocide," but neither Rempel nor Kenney tweeted any thoughts on the matter or the 94 wide-ranging recommendations made by the commission.
Alberta was home to 25 residential schools — more than any other province in the country.
On Wednesday, the TRC's six years of work formally closed at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Commission chair Justice Murray Sinclair used the forum to call for urgent action.
"My fellow commissioners and I are convinced that for healing and reconciliation to happen in this country, such work must be done as a high — and, in some cases, urgent — priority," Sinclair said.
Rempel and Kenney were, again, tweeting about other things.
Some have suggested Tories appear more upset about Tim Hortons' business decision than the conclusions of the TRC report.
Conservatives on Truth and Reconciliation: *tumbleweed rolls by*
Conservatives on donut chain pulling gas company's ad: "THIS CANNOT STAND."— James Gordon (@James_J_Gordon) June 4, 2015
"Residential schools. Meh. Genocide. Meh. OMG TIM HORTONS pulls oil ads!!!" - Conservatives #cdnpoli— Waylon, Maybe (@BannockHammock) June 5, 2015
JUXTAPOSE! Conservatives utterly indifferent to #TRC2015 report suddenly *livid* over boycott of Tim Hortons coffee. Go figure.— CC (@canadiancynic) June 5, 2015
Among the recommendations made by the TRC was a call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and Canada's implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Tories have long resisted taking both actions and, this week, suggested they will not budge from their position.
When Sinclair announced the recommendation for a national inquiry at an event in Ottawa, those in the room broke out in a standing ovation.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt, who was seated next to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, stayed in his seat.
Mulcair later said it was a "tragedy" see Valcourt "crossing his arms as everyone else in the room was standing up and applauding," VICE News reported.
With files from The Canadian Press
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