thumb-2023-09-05-pierre-poiliere-doug-ford This article is more than 9 months old

Pierre Poilievre Rails Against ‘Authoritarian Wokeism’ in Response to Policy From Doug Ford’s Government

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce gets hit with friendly fire in Pierre Poilievre’s latest right-wing culture war crusade

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre is worried about the rise of “authoritarian wokeism” in Canada – except this “growing threat” appears to be coming from Doug Ford’s provincial conservative government at Queen’s Park.

This week, CBC News reported Peel’s regional school board has begun “weeding” books from school libraries and had removed all books published prior to 2008, a list that includes Harry Potter, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the Diary of Anne Frank.

According to CBC News, the school board said it was forced to do so in response to a directive from Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce requiring school boards undertake a “comprehensive diversity audit” of educational materials in school libraries.

Despite this, Poilievre took to the website formerly known as Twitter to issue a head-scratching statement condemning an action taken in response to a directive from Doug Ford’s government.

“Authoritarian wokeism is a growing threat to our freedom,” Poilievre tweeted. “We must fight back to stop the censorship and restore free expression.”

A number of Conservative MPs from Ontario ridings echoed Poilievre’s comments.

Conservative MP Michael Barrett called the Ford government policy “totalitarianism,” while Conservative MP Kyle Seeback described it as “woke running amok.”

Meanwhile, Roman Baber, Poilievre’s controversial candidate in York-Centre whom Doug Ford booted from his party over extreme anti-lockdown rhetoric, joined in by tweeting that “one of the key objectives of the left-wing/woke is to erase history,” later adding that “woke’s opposition to Zionism often comes with a hint of anti-semitism.”

Baber would go on to attribute blame to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh for the removal of library books despite offering no explanation for why he believed they were involved, while a number of Poilievre’s right-wing supporters reacted by likening the policy to Nazi book burnings.

Other observers, meanwhile, questioned whether Poilievre was aware he was criticizing a policy brought in by Doug Ford’s government or if he had even read the story before tweeting.

Conservative spokesperson Sarah Fischer did not respond to questions from PressProgress asking to elaborate on Poilievre’s “authoritarian wokeism” comment or confirm whether Poilievre personally read the CBC News article prior to tweeting the statement.

Senior members of Poilievre’s team have been anonymously criticizing Ford’s PCs through the media in recent months. Poilievre and Ford ignored one another during a public appearance at an event last month, with a spokesperson confirming they did not speak or meet with one another.

The Peel District School Board told CBC News it was forced to “weed” out books from school libraries in response to a directive from the Minister of Education requiring the PDSB ensure educational materials are “inclusive and culturally responsive, relevant and reflective of students, and the Board’s broader school communities.”

Lecce’s Office initially provided no comment, but later issued a statement to CBC News explaining that while “Ontario is committed to ensuring that the addition of new books better reflects the rich diversity of our communities,” the intent was not to “remove books from years past.”

Before running for provincial office, Lecce was a former adviser to Stephen Harper, serving as Director of Media Relations in the Prime Minister’s Office at the same time as Poilievre was a top Harper government minister.

Pierre Poilievre and Stephen Lecce in 2018 (Facebook)

Despite sharing a link to the CBC News article, Poilievre is currently campaigning to “defund the CBC” if he forms government after the next election, describing the public broadcaster as “Trudeau propaganda, not news.”

A consortium of press freedom groups recently issued an open letter to Fischer and Poilievre to express concerns over “freedom of expression” and “press freedom” after the Conservative Party barred journalists from the party’s recent convention in Québec City.

During the convention, one journalist denied entry to the convention by Fischer was threatened with arrest by the Conservative Party’s head of security.


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Luke LeBrun
Luke LeBrun is the Editor of PressProgress. His reporting focuses on the federal political scene, right-wing politics as well as issues in technology, media and culture.

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