POLITICS
06/04/2019 12:00 EDT | Updated 06/04/2019 12:54 EDT

Justice Committee Votes To Scrub Tory MP Michael Cooper's Words About N.Z. Terrorist From Record

The Liberal motion called the MP's treatment of a Muslim anti-racism activist "discriminatory."

Adrian Wyld/CP
Conservative MP Michael Cooper rises during question period on Oct. 6, 2016.

The House of Commons justice committee has voted to expunge from the record the name of the Christchurch mosque shooter, as well as a portion of his so-called manifesto that was read aloud last week by Conservative MP Michael Cooper.

Three Tory MPs on the committee abstained on the vote, however, with one calling the move a “stunt.”

The motion was moved by Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, who a day earlier called on Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer to boot Cooper from his caucus. There is a “revolving door” back in the Conservative Party for those who express intolerance, Boissonnault charged.

Watch: Randy Boissonnault says his motion ‘speaks for itself’

 

Scheer removed Cooper from the committee over the weekend for his “insensitive and unacceptable” treatment of Faisal Khan Suri, the president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council. Liberals say Scheer has not gone far enough.

During a study of online hate last week, Suri told the committee that the gunman in a 2017 attack on a Quebec City mosque was influenced by content about “anti-immigrant, alt-right and conservative commentators, mass murderers, U.S. President Donald Trump, and about Muslims, immigrants living in Quebec.”

Suri said the man charged with the N.Z. mosque attacks in March that killed 51 people was similarly shaped by “alt-right online networks.”

Cooper called Suri’s remarks “defamatory” and accused him of linking conservatism with extremist attacks. The MP for the Alberta riding of St. Albert-Edmonton read part of the 74-page manifesto of the Christchurch shooter, a document that is banned in New Zealand.

Cooper read how the attacker wanted “no part” of conservatism and instead stated his political and social values to be more closely aligned with China. The MP said Suri should be “ashamed” — a remark he later withdrew.

LISTEN: You can hear the justice committee audio recording here.

Boissonnault’s motion called Cooper’s treatment of Suri “discriminatory, hurtful and disrespectful.”

NDP MP Randall Garrison told the committee Tuesday that he welcomed the move, noting how the New Zealand government has worked to ensure the Christchurch terrorist and his twisted words not become infamous.

“I am not opposed to people having ideas or people thinking ideas,” Garrison said. “What I’m opposed to is giving a public platform for the spreading of those violent ideas and for the spreading of hatred.”

Conservative MP John Brassard told the group the Conservative leader has already “dealt with this” and that Cooper has apologized for his remarks.

“This is nothing more than a stunt,” he said before calling for the vote.

It is “not up to the leader of the Opposition to decide when this is over,” Garrison responded.

Tory MP Michael Barrett pushed committee chair Anthony Housefather to call the vote, arguing the back and forth was cutting into time allotted for witnesses to testify.

In a recorded vote, the motion passed by a vote of 6 to 0. Brassard, Barrett, and Tory MP Dave MacKenzie abstained.

In a statement released Saturday, Cooper said he was wrong to quote a “white supremacist anti-Muslim mass murderer” in an attempt to demonstrate such acts aren’t linked to conservatism.

“I absolutely should not have quoted these words nor named the perpetrator. This was a mistake. I apologize to Mr. Suri and to all Canadians,” he said in a statement. “I reiterate that I unequivocally condemn all forms of racism.”

 But Suri, the Muslim anti-racism activist berated by Cooper, agrees the MP should not longer sit as a Conservative.

“I would request Mr. Andrew Scheer to make the right move and to really, actually, have Mr. Cooper removed from caucus. It is detrimental to have such leaders part of any party, and part of Parliament. It’s dangerous to have such a person there,” he told HuffPost Canada.

Scheer said in a speech last week ― on the same day as the incident at the justice committee ― that the Conservative Party has no room for anyone who espouses intolerance, racism, or extremism of any kind.

Read the full text of Boissonnault’s motion:

Whereas the treatment by Mr. Cooper of the president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council was discriminatory, hurtful and disrespectful and whereas reading into the record the comments from the terrorist attacker in Christchurch, New Zealand was inappropriate, be it resolved that the committee recommends that the name of the attacker in the Christchurch, New Zealand massacre, as well as any quoted portion of his manifesto be expunged from the committee’s hansard and that the committee report this recommendation to the House.

With files from Althia Raj