Pembroke – Once again local MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke) has found herself in the middle of a very public controversy after a video emerged in which she accused the Liberal government of becoming “radicals” who want “all illicit drugs to be legal” and “to normalize sexual activity with children.”
These and other statements made by the longtime Conservative MP are contained in a video that recorded a virtual meeting between the MP and a group of young Conservatives at Queen’s University in Kingston earlier this month.
The video remained relatively obscure until Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell, (Pickering-Uxbridge) posted it on both her Twitter and Facebook Social Media accounts. When she posted the video she accused Mrs. Gallant of spreading “disgusting and dangerous lies” and goes on to state her fearmongering is “a threat to our democracy.”
Although Mrs. Gallant went on to make a number of questionable and unsubstantiated statements including that Marxists have taken over university administrations across the country in an effort to stifle free speech and to push a socialist agenda, Ms. O’Connell accuses the MP of promoting anti-Semitic rhetoric.
On her YouTube page, she labels the video as “Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant spews anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” and her Twitter posting goes one step further and infers that other Conservative MPs share Mrs. Gallants beliefs when she wrote “Gallant is yet another CPC MP (to a growing list of them) who repeats anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.”
Although several of Mrs. Gallant’s statements can be considered outlandish and offensive, she does not make any direct reference to anti-Semitism. Ms. O’Connell also compared her to supporters of former President Donald Trump and said the MP is promoting “deranged conspiracy theories.”
Within the video she accuses Liberals of lacking any common sense, stating they have become “a bunch of radicals” and because of this “they want all illicit drugs to be legal. They want anything goes in every aspect of life. They want to normalize sexual activity with children.”
Last Friday Mrs. Gallant provided a very brief statement in which she said “comments on the Liberals choosing to lower the age of consent were taken out of context.” She did not address any of her other comments and said she “will not be commenting further on this matter.”
In the video, she goes on to complain “the liberal media have been bought and paid for” by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and are now backing Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault — whom she dubs the “censor in chief” — in his plans to make Google and Facebook pay for news content they disseminate on their platforms.
She also accused the prime minister of purposely driving a wedge between Google and Facebook and the Canadian government in order for the tech giants to follow the recent Australia example and remove all news contents from their platforms in Canada.
“Why do you think Trudeau would want Canadians to be unable to search or share news right as he’s planning a snap election?” she asks.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who has been attempting to put a more moderate face on his party, said the Liberals are trying to distract from their failure to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.
“Canadians have other priorities and so do I,” he said in a brief statement late Friday.
Similar to Mrs. Gallant, Mr. O’Toole has not made any other comments despite the video being seen by thousands of Canadians and commented on by all major news outlets and several Social Media platforms.
Mr. O’Toole joins a long line of party leaders who have either disciplined or did their best to distance themselves from Mrs. Gallant in order to isolate her and not have her actions become the namesake of the federal party.
What has become a familiar pattern since she was first elected as a member of the former Canadian Alliance in 2000, her controversial statements have caused embarrassment for both her party and her former leaders.
In 2002, she made anti-gay remarks to then Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham, when during a heated exchange, she kept interrupting "Ask your boyfriend" or "How's your boyfriend?" Although she at first refused to apologize for her statements, behind the scenes, Stockwell Day, leader of the Canadian Alliance at the time, had Mrs. Gallant apologize on the floor of the House of Commons.
During the 2004 election, a controversy erupted when she compared abortion to the beheading of Iraq War hostage Nick Berg. Stephen Harper had just been elected leader of the newly-formed Conservative Party and his office announced she was suffering from laryngitis, and she did not appear at some scheduled debates and was not allowed to make any statements to both local and national news outlets.
In 2005 she suggested Christians were being persecuted by the Liberal Party in a flyer she sent to her constituents. Confronted with the news, Mr. Harper said "I'll let Cheryl Gallant explain those remarks herself; I haven't seen them."
In February 2011, during Defence Committee hearings in St. John's before an audience which included the family and co-workers of mariners lost at sea in recent accidents on the Atlantic, Mrs. Gallant remarked, "In Ontario we have inland seas, the Great Lakes, and it would never occur to any of us, even up in the Ottawa River, to count on the Coast Guard to come and help us."
Her comparison of recreational boaters in sheltered inland waters to mariners on the Atlantic Ocean hundreds of miles from land drew outrage from many who had lost family at sea. Once again Mr. Harper attempted to distance himself and the party from her and suggested reporters contact her directly for any further remarks.
She initially refused to apologize saying her remarks were misinterpreted, but a few days later she said she was sorry and did not mean to minimize ocean dangers.
There were other incidents including a 2016 scandal when she used the death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo as a means to generate money for her campaign through an Easter ham lottery. Cpl. Cirillo was killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial on Oct. 22, 2014.
In 2017, newly-elected leader Andrew Scheer called for a “whipped vote” in support of Canada’s commitment to the Paris Accord. However, when the roll was taken, Mrs. Gallant defied the Leader’s Office and voted against the Accord. She was the only MP from all parties who voted against it, thereby denying unanimous consent and caused great embarrassment to Mr. Scheer.
Neither the Conservative Party, its members or the local riding association have made any public statements on the recent controversy and calls to the MP’s office were not retu
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader