A day after six Muslims were gunned down at a Quebec City mosque, a Conservative leadership hopeful has come out swinging against politicians who "normalize hate."
"This mosque attack is no accident," wrote Michael Chong in a tweet Monday evening, referring to the deadly assault on the Centre culturel islamique de Quebec on Sunday.
"It's a direct result of demagogues and wannabe demagogues playing to fears and prejudices."
On Facebook, the Tory MP posted a statement defending Canada's immigration and refugee screening processes and blasted politicians "espousing" divisive and hateful policies.
And though he does not name names in his tweets or his Facebook post, Chong has in the past criticized the proposed immigration policies of fellow leadership candidate Kellie Leitch, who has suggested screening immigrants and refugees for "anti-Canadian values."
Chong's comments also come after a chaotic weekend of uncertainty and fear brought forth by U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban.
Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong said on Twitter it's time to say "enough" to politicians who "normalize hate." (Photo: The Canadian Press)
Trump issued a 90-day ban on travellers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. He also suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely barred those from Syria.
"The politicians espousing these policies may do it in a genteel fashion that sounds acceptable, but check out the comments on their social media platforms and you will find cesspools of hate," Chong wrote on Facebook.
"In fact, one candidate for leadership of the Conservative Party has now been endorsed by two white supremacist organizations," he added, referring to Leitch.
In a December leadership debate, Chong accused the former cabinet minister of race-baiting.
"It's time to say, 'enough'. Playing footsie with hate is anathema to Canadians' values. It is dangerous, it is cynical and we need to root it out," Chong wrote on Facebook.
Chong wasn't the only Tory leadership candidate to rail against divisive politics and inflammatory rhetoric on Monday.
Fellow contender Deepak Obhrai was asked if Donald Trump's presidency had created any security issues in Canada, and whether the Conservative party had any role in heightening anti-Islamic sentiment in Canada.
"I think all of us have to be a little more careful in what we say and how we say. And that we don't give fuel to community-based politics. We don't give fuel to that divisiveness," Obhrai told reporters on Parliament Hill.
Later, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose spoke in the House to offer her condolences to the families of the attack's victims, as well as warn against the "terrible motivations" of hatred and ignorance.
Ambrose said the attack on the Quebec City mosque is a "sad reminder" Canada is not immune to terrorism.
"An attack against a place of worship, against people praying in a mosque is an attack on these very freedoms," she said. "It negates the principles on which Canada was founded."
With files from Catherine Levesque, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press
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