Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre is facing criticism after sharing a social media post, meant to commemorate a pair of Edmonton officers who were killed this week.
Many people on Twitter were startled to see the Canadian politician include a grey image of the Edmonton police crest, which included a thin blue line on top of it, along with his message of condolence. Some users even felt it was a dog whistle signalling to a fascist movement.
The thin blue line is a symbol that's been associated white supremacy, and in Canada, it's often featured atop of a grey or black and white Canadian flag. It is said to show police solidarity or to commemorate a fallen officer. However, since the start of the Black Lives Matters movement, many argue the thin blue line symbolizes an "us vs. them" mentality.
Several forces across the country have had to deal with the controversy of the symbol in recent years. In January, the Vancouver Police Board confirmed that officers were forbidden to wear patches or pins with the thin blue line. A similar move was made by Victoria police in 2020.
Last year, the RCMP in Nova Scotia reminded its officers that the unauthorized patches are not allowed to be worn in uniform.
The Calgary Police Service has also ordered their officers not to wear patches with a thin blue line on their uniform. However, they are permitted to wear a pin with a thin blue line.
Earlier this week, an Ottawa councillor denounced the city's police officers for wearing the pin on a hockey jersey at a charity event.
On Twitter, users called out Poilievre for politicizing the tragedy in Edmonton, while promoting what many consider to be a symbol associated with racism.
Alignment with more far-right symbols. Cool.
— A Red Shovel (@ARedShovel) March 16, 2023
Very sad and disturbing news regarding the loss of 2 Edmonton Officers. This Symbol has been called out as offensive to Marginalized People, for those who have been victims of Police Brutality. Even just this week at Ottawa Council, this was called out. No coincidence.
— peggy cd (she/her🇨🇦🧡ally 🏳️🌈ally) (@56peggy) March 16, 2023
Yeah, somehow I don’t think the RCMP appreciates you bandying about a symbol they have asked their officers not to use. https://t.co/4DwnfLWuXK
— Ivriniel (@Ivriniel) March 16, 2023
the blue line?! You either need your team to vet stuff better or they did and you're cool with it
— Amanda Moses (@WarPizza) March 16, 2023
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has stated that it often encounters Thin Blue Line and 'back the blue' symbols on social media pages used by hate groups
— Dodger 🏴☠️ (@thedodger777) March 16, 2023
Lovely tweet… but why the dog whistling symbol?
— EngPharm🇨🇦 ⚡️❄️ (@engpharm) March 17, 2023
Here’s Pierre Poilievre posting a thin blue line photo to try and capitalize politically from the deaths of 2 police officers.
The thin blue line has no place in Canada, much less from a politician seeking to lead the country. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/1BiFUFTPmh
— Eric O'Toole (@Eric_OTooleMP) March 16, 2023
Using a racist and divisive symbol like the thin blue line after Const. Jordan and Ryan were killed in the line of duty distracts from their sacrifice. The use of this symbol should always be called out, it’s unfortunate that Pierre’s tweet makes this necessary today. https://t.co/AfUiHj9NL1
— Jacob Dunn (@JacobDunn99) March 16, 2023
Poilievre has not addressed the controversy.
Edmonton police Const. Travis Jordan, 35, and Const. Brett Ryan, 30, were killed Thursday by a 16-year-old who then took his own life, according to officials. Police also said the teenager shot and wounded his mother.
"I can't tell you how devastated we are with their loss," Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee told the Associated Press.