May 26th, 2024

Tories accuse minister of ‘politicizing’ Governor General’s office over online harms

By The Canadian Press on April 17, 2024.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon arrives to a luncheon to mark International Women's Day, in Ottawa, Friday, March 8, 2024. A spokeswoman for Simon says she will continue to advocate for "digital respect," as one parliamentary expert suggests it might be wise for the vice-regal to halt her campaign. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – A spokeswoman for Gov. Gen. Mary Simon says she will continue to advocate for “digital respect,” despite suggestions it’s inappropriate for her to wade in when a government bill addressing the issue is being hotly debated.

The comment comes after Justice Minister Arif Virani posted photos of himself with “industry experts” at a recent symposium hosted by Rideau Hall, touting the Liberals’ online harms legislation.

A spokesman for Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says Virani “should be ashamed” after “politicizing and exploiting” Simon’s non-partisan office.

Simon has been making efforts to raise awareness about online abuse since her office decided to turn off comments on its social-media accounts last year following a barrage of harassing remarks.

Her office says the symposium brought people together to talk about their personal experiences of such abuse, and the agenda didn’t include any discussion of the government bill.

Parliamentary expert and Carleton University professor Philippe Lagassé says the event was “risky” and Simon would be wise to consider backing off.

Virani’s office says the minister only showed up for lunch and the bill “naturally” came up with some attendees, but Lagassé says he shouldn’t have been there at all.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024.

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