MP Cheryl Gallant apologizes for fundraiser that used Nathan Cirillo's image

Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant has apologized for using an image of slain Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in a partisan fundraiser that offered potential donors Easter hams.

Pembroke Conservative MP criticized for mixing issue of extremism with refugees and immigration

Conservative Party MP Cheryl Gallant has apologized for an email that linked slain Cpl. Nathan Cirillo with an Easter ham fundraising offer. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant has apologized for using an image of slain Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in a partisan fundraiser that offered potential donors Easter hams.

"Given the email was a fundraising request, I should not have included that photo," Gallant wrote in a short email sent to CBC News. "I apologize for doing so."

Gallant, who represents the Ottawa valley riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, has spent the past two days ducking questions and avoiding reporters after CBC news reported on her bizarre fundraising pitch.

On March 2, Gallant sent an email to supporters with the all-caps subject line TERRORISTS IN OUR MIDST.

The fundraising email was an assault on Liberal immigration policies but it included a picture of Cirillo in military dress with the caption "A Hero Forever In Our Hearts." The text links the fast-tracking of Canadian citizenship for refugees and migrants to the reversal of a bill that would revoke citizenship for dual citizens convicted of terrorist acts.

Cheryl Gallant sent an email to residents of her Ontario riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke on March 2. The email featured Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and asked people to click on a donate button. Those who did were taken to this page where they were told donations could get them a ham. (Conservative Party of Canada)

The email also contains photos of Canadians with terrorist links, including Cirillo's killer and Parliament Hill attacker Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Toronto 18 terrorist plotter Zakaria Amara.

At the bottom of the email a red "Order Now" button leads to an Easter fundraising campaign where donors will be rewarded with a ham, though the website cautions the ham is only available to residents of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.

Until this emailed apology, Gallant hadn't said anything about the controversy. The first public comment came from interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, who blamed the pitch on Gallant's riding association.

"She herself has taken that back and apologized for it. So I think that was the right thing to do," Ambrose told reporters.

That was quickly followed by a rebuke from Conservative Party spokesman Cory Hann, who said the content of the fundraising email wasn't appropriate and that any donations would be redirected.

"We understand that in lieu of accepting any donations from it as political contributions, Ms. Gallant has instead decided to have her EDA (electoral district association) donate to the Stand on Guard Fund in support of the families of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo."

Cirillo, 24, was killed while standing guard at the National War Memorial on Oct. 22, 2014, before Zehaf-Bibeau launched his attack on Parliament Hill that ended in a gun battle with House of Commons security and the RCMP in the halls of Centre Block.

Just two days earlier, 53-year-old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was struck and killed in a targeted but unrelated hit-and-run in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.


David Cochrane is a senior reporter in CBC's Parliamentary bureau. He previously wrote for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador.


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