Conservative incumbent Jason Kenney took issue with criticism lobbed by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi this week, and his choice of words did not go unnoticed.
On Wednesday, Nenshi criticized Tory leader Stephen Harper's stance on the niqab ban as "unbelievably dangerous stuff."
Kenney was quick to take umbrage and responded: “It seems to me that it’s the mayor and people like him who are politicizing [the niqab ban]. I don’t think this should be an issue of contention," Kenney told the Calgary Herald.
Kenney's use of the phrase "people like him" sparked a wave of responses on Twitter.
Nenshi took the high road.
Some asked Kenney what he meant.
Mr. Kenney, when you say #PeopleLikeNenshi, do you mean mayors? Progressive thinkers? Or something of a different shade?— Marty Chan (@Marty_Chan) October 1, 2015
Others outright accused the Tory of racism.
#PeopleLikeNenshi who build community, stand up to the Harperites, and call out their coded, racist rhetoric? I hope that's every Canadian.— mitchellbeer (@mitchellbeer) October 2, 2015
Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons made the hashtag #PeopleLikeNenshi official.
Twitter users from across the country jumped into the conversation.
... including Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
A few defended Kenney's remarks.
#peoplelikeNenshi are WRONG. Not exactly a big surprise that someone like him would want to supress women.— Julia (@HappyGlowLucky7) October 2, 2015
Even after all of the drama, Nenshi had only kind words for Kenney.
@nenshi handsome single men?— Pat Bingley (@PatsyBing) October 1, 2015
UPDATE: On Friday, Kenney clarified that he was talking about "politically correct liberals who were politicizing this issue." In an interview with Evan Solomon, the Tory incumbent said suggestions that his comment related to race or religion were "completely ridiculous."
According to Twitter Canada, in the first 24 hours since Paula Simons first tweeted "#PeopleLikeNenshi," the hashtag was used over 14,000 times — Calgary-based accounts made up 55 per cent of the tweets.
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