Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is “unacceptable” that someone used a community WeChat group run on behalf of one of his cabinet ministers to crowdsource a lawsuit against a Canadian journalist for exposing a Chinese state-backed effort to stockpile personal protective gear.
During a daily briefing with journalists on Tuesday, Trudeau was asked about a report published on a Vancouver local news website called The Breaker on Monday.
That report says the WeChat group operated by staff of Digital Governance Minister Joyce Murray has allowed for the posting and spread of a message by someone attempting to crowdsource money for a lawsuit against a Global News journalist.
“This is the first I hear of this situation and we’ll be following up,” Trudeau said.
Global News first reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office at 11:50 p.m. ET on Monday asking for comment about the report and was told at 9:18 a.m. that the office was looking into it.
Trudeau’s press conference began at 11:15 a.m.
Trudeau later said when questioned about the matter by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer that the post was unacceptable and that the individual who posted it has been barred from the minister’s WeChat group.
“As a party and a government we value the important work that journalists do right across the country. Attacking the integrity of hard-working journalists is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.
“The individual who posted this link on the particular group is no longer a member of the group and is not affiliated with the electoral district association in question.”