James Lunney, a federal Conservative MP, is using his Twitter account to come to the defence of an Ontario Progressive Conservative who told reporters last week that he doesn't believe in evolution.
The British Columbia chiropractor, first elected as a member of Parliament in 2000, has jumped into a fray that started last week in the Ontario Legislature.
Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP Rick Nicholls, who represents the province's Chatham-Kent-Essex riding, was heckling the provincial education minister on Wednesday when the matter of human origins came up.
Education Minister Liz Sandals was responding to PC criticism of her government’s new sex-education curriculum when she quipped that a PC government "could opt out of teaching about evolution, too."
"Not a bad idea," said Nicholls, who later clarified his position to reporters in the lobby.
"For myself, I don’t believe in evolution," he said, adding that his views were "a personal stance" rather than party policy.
'Stop calling evolution fact!'
Interim Ontario PC Leader Jim Wilson was quick to distance himself from Nicholls's anti-evolution views, saying "it obviously didn’t help our position."
Ontario PC house leader Steve Clark and leadership candidate Christine Elliott also disowned the remarks.
But Lunney has come to Nicholls's defence.
"[Just] stop calling #evolution fact!" tweeted Lunney, who said he had no problem calling it a "theory."
.@idebunkforme your zeal & arrogance betray lack of understanding of Science & managing assumptions!— @jameslunneymp
Lunney, who represents the federal riding of Nanaimo-Alberni. seemed to be echoing views he expressed in a statement to the House in 2009:
"Any scientist who declares that the theory of evolution is a fact has already abandoned the foundations of science. For science establishes fact through the study of things observable and reproducible. Since origins can neither be reproduced nor observed, they remain the realm of hypothesis," he said then.
"The evolutionist may disagree, but neither can produce Darwin as a witness to prove his point. The evolutionist may genuinely see his ancestor in a monkey, but many modern scientists interpret the same evidence in favour of creation and a Creator."
Also questioned vaccines, climate change
Lunney has also used his Twitter account in the past to question climate change.
Last year he tweeted "Science settled? Think again!" and posted a link to an article by a University of Guelph economist who is one of the signatories of a declaration disputing climate change.
In a 2004 speech in the House of Commons, Lunney cited figures he said showed a tenfold increase in the incidence of autism and said Canada should explore a link to vaccines.
"Why should Canada not be leading the world in actually addressing these issues, finding out if there is a root issue, doing some proper studies and making sure we get appropriate intervention for these children?" he said, according to a statement posted on his website.
Medical research has thoroughly discredited the purported link between vaccines and autism. But a widespread belief in such a link is thought to explain a decline in childhood vaccination that has permitted the resurgence of once-vanquished diseases such as measles.
Lunney has said he isn't running again in 2015.