The Conservatives were forced Tuesday to remove two social media posts claiming the RCMP had confirmed it was investigating Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau over the SNC-Lavalin affair.
The tweets came shortly after RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki held a press conference in Ottawa to discuss the arrest of Cameron Ortis, the director general of the RCMP’s national intelligence co-ordination centre, on allegations of spying.
At the end of the press conference, Lucki was asked if the RCMP wanted Trudeau to waive cabinet confidentiality so the force could continue examining whether there was obstruction of justice in the case of SNC-Lavalin and Trudeau’s former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould.
“Today we’re here for Mr. Ortis’s investigation. So I don’t want to comment very much,” she said. “We do take all investigations very seriously and investigate to the fullest.”
Immediately after that statement, Brock Harrison, director of communications for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, posted on Twitter that the RCMP had just confirmed Trudeau was under investigation by the Mounties.
A tweet from the Conservative Party headquarters swiftly followed suit: “Breaking: RCMP confirms Justin Trudeau is under investigation for the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal.”
Within minutes, Scheer himself repeated Lucki’s words at a campaign rally in Winnipeg and suggested Trudeau was now officially under investigation.
That prompted the RCMP to issue a statement clarifying the commissioner’s earlier remarks.
“The commissioner’s statement was a general statement about investigations,” said an RCMP spokesperson in an email. “The RCMP will not comment on the SNC-Lavalin issue.’
Both Harrison’s tweet and the Conservative Party headquarters tweet were then swiftly deleted.
“This tweet was posted before the RCMP clarified their comments,” explained a Conservative Party spokesman. “The tweet has been deleted. Unlike Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, we respect the work the RCMP does.”
The incident was not the only Conservative social media misstep on Tuesday. Comedian Rick Mercer took to his Twitter feed to demand Scheer and the party remove a post by the Conservative candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour for misrepresenting Mercer as a party supporter.
“Your candidate in Burnaby North-Seymour is distributing a meme on social media with my face and the words ‘Vote Conservative’ indicating it is a quote from me. Not true. All fake. Please Stop,” Mercer said referring to Tory candidate Heather Leung.
Leung is going up against Liberal Terry Beech, the Greens’ Amita Kuttner, NDP candidate Svend Robinson and People’s Party of Canada candidate Rocky Dong.
The Facebook post included an image of Mercer featuring a quote by the comedian that had been altered. The original quote simply asked young people between the age of 18 and 25 to participate in the electoral process by voting.
But on the Burnaby North-Seymour Constituency Association’s facebook page the word “Conservative” was added after the world “vote” suggesting Mercer was campaigning for the Tories.
“It’s completely bizarre,” he told CBC News on Tuesday evening. “I’m not angry. I was more amused than anything.”
“I was always careful not to say, you know, which party you should vote for. I would never do that,” Mercer said in an interview with CBC News. “It’s weird that people will think in this day and age that you can get away with that.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson said the post has been deleted and the person that created it was not a part of the local campaign.