OTTAWA — The Conservative Party of Canada has removed a “Donate Now” button from a web page which highlighted Stephen Harper’s comments about the deadly Paris terrorist attack, after critics called it crass.
The page on the party website, titled Standing Up Against Terrorism, featured the prime minister’s reaction to the horrific shootings at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and noted that Canadians can count on Harper and the Conservatives to ensure their safety.
“When a trio of hooded men struck at some of our most cherished democratic principles — freedom of expression, freedom of the press — they assaulted democracy everywhere,” the web page said, quoting Harper.
It added: “Canadians can count on Prime Minister Harper and our Conservative government to ensure the safety of Canadians while protecting their rights.”
Initially, the page featured a button in the top right corner where supporters could click to donate to the party.
Liberal MP Marc Garneau was quick to condemn that as inappropriate.
“Conservatives fundraising off an ongoing terrorist act is offensive and totally crass,” Garneau wrote on Twitter.
“Is there no limit?”
The button was later removed to ensure people understand the web page was never meant to raise money, said Cory Hann, the Conservative party’s director of communications.
“This was not, and is not, a fundraising campaign,” Hann wrote in an email.
“This was to inform Canadians about the prime minister’s strong remarks yesterday against the despicable terrorism in Paris,” he added.
“That said, to avoid any confusion we have had our web editor remove the button from this particular page.”
But the NDP pointed out the page still encouraged viewers to provide their personal contact information.
That merely allows the Tories to contact citizens later and ask for political donations, said New Democrat MP Charlie Angus.
“I was actually sick in my stomach when I saw that the response to this horrific bloodshed and killing from the Conservative party was to make some money off it,” Angus said in an interview.
“So now what they’re doing is they’re collecting your information, if you want to be really angry about this, and then they’ll send you a fundraising request afterwards,” he said.
“They are using for their own political advantage the deaths of innocent people in other countries.”
Angus said he’s concerned that this could mark the beginning of a new low for the Tories as Canadians head into the 2015 election campaign.
But Hann noted that it’s common practice for the Tories and other parties to include donate buttons on their websites.
He pointed to one posted by the Liberals, which featured such a button above comments from Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on the October shootings at the National War Memorial and on Parliament Hill.
A small green “Donate” icon was present in top right corner of the NDP website on Wednesday, above Tom Mulcair’s comments about the Paris tragedy.
A similar button was also present Friday on a Liberal site, above a statement from Trudeau about the deadly attack.