Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre said Monday he has no plans to remove from his caucus three members of Parliament who recently met with a German politician from a far-right party.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Poilievre otherwise ducked questions about the luncheon between Christine Anderson and Ontario MPs Leslyn Lewis, Dean Allison and Colin Carrie.
Anderson visited Canada as part of a tour organized by supporters of last year’s “Freedom Convoy” protests near Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa, which she publicly supported.
Anderson is a member of European Parliament representing the Alternative for Germany party, which has been under surveillance as a suspected extremist group in Germany and is accused of downplaying Nazi crimes, opposing immigration and pushing anti-Muslim ideology.
After photographs of her meeting with the Conservative representatives emerged, Poilievre’s office released a statement condemning Anderson’s views as “vile” and “racist,” while insisting the MPs were unaware of her politics and they regretted the meeting.
Carrie, who represents the riding of Oshawa, expressed his regret on social media more than a week ago, but neither Allison nor Lewis has responded to multiple requests for comment. As she entered the House of Commons for question period on Monday, Lewis did not respond to reporters’ questions about whether she regrets the meeting.
Bethan Nodwell, one of the convoy-affiliated organizers of the luncheon, said it lasted for about two hours. The MPs and Anderson discussed topics including COVID-19 mandates, vaccines and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nodwell said.
Unlike backbenchers Allison and Carrie, whom Poilievre left out of his picks for critic roles, Lewis sits in the front benches as the party’s infrastructure critic. She is also a two-time former leadership candidate.
Earlier in the day, Poilievre took a different tack when asked about the issue, trying to turn the tables on Trudeau rather than reiterating his earlier comments.
“Right now, what I’m more concerned about is the vile and racist views of the prime minister,” he told reporters, pointing to reports during the 2019 federal election campaign that Trudeau had worn blackface several times before entering politics. Trudeau apologized on the campaign trail after the news came out.
When asked directly on Monday whether he intends to remove Lewis, Allison or Carrie from caucus, the Conservative leader answered: “No.”
Under rules established by the 2014 Reform Act, which the current Conservative caucus voted to adhere to after the 2021 election, a vote would be required to expel an MP.
That was the case for former representative Derek Sloan, whose ouster before the last election was initiated by former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole. O’Toole triggered a vote after reports that Sloan had accepted a political donation from a known white nationalist, citing a “pattern of destructive behaviour.”
The caucus turfed the former leader himself under a similar Reform Act provision.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2023.