Ottawa Citizen - Ottawa Catholic school board trustee had Twitter account temporarily suspended after 'outrageous' tweet about Muslims

When reached by phone for comment, Glen Armstrong hung up before responding. He also blocked Coun. Catherine McKenney on Twitter

By: Sue Sherring

 

A local Catholic school board trustee saw his Twitter account temporarily suspended earlier this month after posting a tweet that critics decried as insensitive to the Muslim community.

In a post on the social media site, Glen Armstrong dismissed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attendance at the funeral for a London Muslim family killed in a ramming attack earlier in June as a cynical political gesture.

“Liberal Muslim vote secured,” Armstrong posted in reply to a tweet criticizing Trudeau for attending the funeral instead of showing up in-person to Parliament.

Shortly after the post, Armstrong’s account was suspended. It has since been restored, though Armstrong has locked his account, meaning his tweets are only visible to those who he approved as followers.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney called the post “outrageous” and accused Armstrong of lacking any compassion.

“For him to write that, just days following a brutal murder of a family taking an evening walk because they were Muslim, it’s outrageous. They were mowed down brutally in a hate crime. He’s stoking fears, that hatred that is out there against an identifiable group of people,” McKenney said in an interview last week.

“I was stunned at the inappropriateness, at the lack of any compassion or thought to the family and for the people in our city who are reading who are Muslim, who are afraid to go out, afraid of being targeted. He holds a public office and is trying to hold another public office.”

When reached by phone for comment, Armstrong hung up before responding. He also blocked McKenny on Twitter.

On Tuesday, the Ottawa Catholic School Board unanimously passed a motion asking Armstrong to resign and to publicly apologize to the Muslim community for a social media post. The board did not specify which post prompted it to act.

The board ruled that Armstrong breached four sections of the trustee code of conduct and barred him from attending various board meetings for the rest of the year, among other sanctions.

Armstrong had applied to become the federal Conservative nominee for the riding of Nepean, according to riding president Bill Ayyad, however the application was rejected.

Ayyad said the riding association condemned the post.

“What he’s saying and how he’s behaving is not consistent with our beliefs. We whole-heartedly disagree with his statements.”

In a statement released earlier this month, the Ottawa Catholic School Board expressed solidarity with the family and friends of those killed in the London truck attack.

“The Ottawa Catholic School Board stands in solidarity with Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) students and staff as they deal with the death of a TVDSB student and four of their family members. We, like all Ontarians, are horrified by this senseless violence.”

“Hate has no place in our schools, community or country. As a Catholic School Board, we deeply respect and support our Muslim community, and we will pray for all who this hatred has impacted. We remain committed to combating racism in all of its forms.”

Armstrong is also the only trustee to vote against flying the Pride Flag in a recent debate at the board, which also drew condemnation from McKenny.

“The notion of flying the Pride Flag is actually important to kids in school at that age, and especially in high school that they know their sexuality, gay or bi or trans is accepted. We know that kids who are queer are four times more likely to commit suicide than other kids,” McKenny said.

“If you’re a school board trustee, you should be educating and flying the flag let’s kids know they’re okay and accepted. It can go a tremendously long way to them accepting themselves.”

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