Poilievre defends Truth and Reconciliation Day post, calls criticism 'appalling politicization'
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is defending the caption on photos he posted to social media on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation after Liberal cabinet minister Marc Miller accused him of misidentifying Inuit people as Algonquin.
On Saturday, Poilievre posted two photos to X, formerly Twitter, of himself meeting with three Inuit people wearing traditional clothing, with the caption that he was “honoured to join the Algonquin Elders and leaders at the eternal flame to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.”
The photos were taken near the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hil.
Miller, former Crown-Indigenous relations minister and now federal immigration minister, was quick to point out the people in the photo were not Algonquin, but rather Inuit, “including Elder Manitok Thompson, who is very well known.”
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“We are all learning some difficult truths, particularly today, and mistakes can happen,” Miller wrote.
The online exchange led to other MPs and politics watchers weighing in. The Canadian Press reported Saturday that Poilievre was facing online criticism for the post.
However, Poilievre says the caption was not an error, but rather misrepresented by Miller. He told reporters Tuesday he knew the people in the photo were Inuit, but the ceremony he attended was hosted by Algonquin leaders, who did not wish to be photographed.
“The reason we didn't put pictures of that ceremony (online), is because based on their traditional custom, photography is not allowed,” Poilievre said. “So out of respect for them, we did not photograph that ceremony.”
“Instead, we photographed other Inuit leaders, an Inuk knowledge keeper in particular, who was present and who also participated in the Algonquin ceremony,” he added.
Poilievre hit back at Miller for his “appalling politicization” of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. He also criticized the Canadian Press reporting from the weekend, accusing it of “regurgitating a false tweet from a Liberal minister.”
Hundreds of people marked the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Parliament Hill Saturday, including residential school survivors, various Indigenous leaders, current Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Gary Anandasangaree and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon.
Honoured to join the Algonquin Elders and leaders at the eternal flame to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) September 30, 2023
The path of truth and reconciliation is long but together we can begin to mend what has been broken and find true healing. pic.twitter.com/a4eJ3hMQn1