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Poilievre condemned for use of YouTube tag targeting 'misogynistic' groups

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are accusing Pierre Poilievre of “using his videos to appeal to far-right misogynistic online movements," after it was revealed that Poilievre's YouTube channel was using a hidden tag to promote his videos among anti-women audiences.

"The choice made by the Conservative leader in reaching out to extremist online groups, into pulling in anti-women, misogynistic groups for his own political gain is one that he will have to answer for. I mean, women across this country want to know why he allowed this to happen and want to see him take responsibility for it," Trudeau said in the House of Commons on Thursday.

The tag first reported by Global News used to target these online audiences, "#mgtow"—an acronym for “men going their own way”—is a reference to an anti-feminist group of men who seek to separate themselves from women. It has been associated with the so-called "incel" or involuntary celibacy movement

Reddit has banned the “r/MGTOW” community for violating its rule against promoting hate. 

CTV News independently verified the past use of the “mgtow” tag embedded in code of videos on Poilievre’s YouTube page, using the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. As Global News reported, after the tag's use was raised with Poilievre's office, it was removed from videos uploaded over the last few years.

Trudeau challenged Poilievre repeatedly to address the issue during question period—where the governing party is supposed to be the one facing questions.

"These are anti-women movements and they have devastating, real life consequences. Mr. Speaker, I call on the Conservative leader to stand in this House, take responsibility, and apologize," Trudeau said.

In response, Poilievre confirmed that he "corrected the problem as soon as it became known to me."

Poilievre said he condemns "all forms of misogyny" and "took responsibility," before pivoting to attack Trudeau over his past blackface scandal and the Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin controversy, with the Conservative caucus cheering him on.

CALLS TO EXPLAIN, APOLOGIZE

Several MPs and ministers echoed Trudeau's condemnation on Thursday, calling for Poilievre to explain how the use of this tag was permitted, and who was responsible.

"It is very alarming to see a report where a political party, the Conservative Party of Canada, apparently has used some kind of a hashtag or coding that was not visible, to feed into incel echo chambers where you have overtly violent rhetoric towards women. It’s dangerous, it’s wrong, and it will be up to them to answer for it," said Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino.

Justice Minister David Lametti called it "beyond completely unacceptable," and "a real scandal." He said that everyone who supported Poilievre during the leadership race, or who is backing the party now should think about that.

"Linking your posts to a group that actively incites hatred… I am outraged. I think every woman in Canada, every person in Canada, should be outraged by this,” Lametti said.

Liberal MPs Jennifer O’Connell and Soraya Martinez Ferrada have called for Poilievre to denounce the actions of his team and take some responsibility, but are also calling on female Conservative MPs to stand up and denounce this.

"Mr. Poilievre purposely has been targeting and courting violent anti-women incel movements for his own political and personal gain… He is running to be—he claims—prime minister… And we call on him to act now," O'Connell said.

Conservative MP Raquel Dancho was asked by reporters on Parliament Hill who she thought should take responsibility for the tag.

She said: “I’m very proud of my leader for just coming right out and taking responsibility and immediately rectifying the situation. I think that shows real leadership and it’s about time that we had a leader in the House of Commons that did that,” while also accusing Trudeau of failing “to take responsibility over and over again for racist, sexist and misogynistic actions.”

Alain Rayes, an independent MP who left the Conservative Party just days after Poilievre’s win, called the situation “unacceptable.” Rayes said while he can believe that Poilievre did not use the tag himself, “he must fire the person who did immediately.” He said it was “the minimum expected from a leader.” 

While some MPs are calling for there to be consequences, Poilievre has made no indication that he plans to take further action to address the matter.

With a file from CTVNews.ca’s Phil Hahn 

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