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Canada’s deputy PM in soup over controversial tweet

In the first major controversy of what has been a somewhat staid 2021 Federal election campaign so far, Twitter marked as manipulated media a tweet from Canada’s outgoing deputy prime minister, a post that was also retweeted by Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The tweet from Chrystia Freeland, deputy prime minister and finance minister, took aim at Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole over the latter’s apparent preference for privatisation of Canada’s universal healthcare system, and she posted a video of a response from him to a question in this context. However, that video appears to have been spliced and was flagged by Twitter, but not before Trudeau had already retweeted it.

Interestingly, while Freeland posted the same content in French and English, only the French version was flagged by Twitter. In the tweet, she wrote: “Canada’s public, universal health care system is one of our greatest strengths. It’s part of what makes us who we are as a country. Last year, as Covid-19 raged, Erin O’Toole was asked if he would bring private, “for-profit” healthcare to Canada. He responded unequivocally: “yes”.

However, the person who asked him the question in July 2020, Kate Harrison responded to Freeland’s post stating she was “disappointed to see the video was manipulated to exclude important context”.

“‘We need to ensure universal access remains paramount’. That’s a direct quote from O’Toole. It was edited from the original clip,” Harrison said.

Another person, Laryssa Waler, posted a transcript of the original exchange, highlighting the parts that had been edited out of the clip that was posted by Freeland and accused her of trying to “mislead Canadians”.

Harrison added, “The amateur cut and paste slapped together for this video is even more jarring when you look at what was used (and not used) in writing.”

While still trailing the incumbent Liberals, the Conservative Party jumped on the opportunity afforded by Twitter’s action, unprecedented in Canadian politics, as it tweeted, “It’s disappointing to see the Liberals resort to American-style divisive politics. While Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are focused on spreading misinformation – Erin O’Toole is focused on Canada’s recovery plan and securing the future.”

Trudeau is focusing upon healthcare, particularly his government’s measures to counter the challenge posted by the Covid-19 pandemic as the principal plank for the elections on September 20. In calling snap polls, his objective is to convert the minority that his party has in Parliament at this time into a majority.

Desk Team