Conservative Facebook post on West Edmonton Mall threat 'troubling,' Alberta MLA says

An Alberta Progressive Conservative MLA says a post on the federal Conservative Party's Facebook page that highlights an apparent terror threat against West Edmonton Mall issued by al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab "troubles [him] on so many different levels."

Party's Facebook post uses YouTube recording posted by group behind 2013 mall attack in Kenya

(Conservative Party of Canada/Facebook (screenshot))

An Alberta Progressive Conservative MLA says a new post on the the federal Conservative Party Facebook page that highlights an apparent terror threat against West Edmonton Mall issued by Somalia-based militants is troubling "on so many different levels."

Thomas Lukaszuk tweeted the comment on Tuesday night in response to the Conservatives' Facebook entry posted Monday night.

The post uses a screenshot and quote taken from a video posted to YouTube last month by the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab, who were behind a brutal attack on Kenya's Westgate Mall in 2013 that left 60 people dead.

Near the end of the new video, which runs just over an hour in total, a masked man with an English accent urges followers to launch similar assaults on shopping malls in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada, and named West Edmonton Mall as a potential target.

"Jihadi terrorists are threatening Canada — we need to give our police and security forces the tools they need to protect us from the threat of terrorism." The Facebook post invites supporters to "add your name if you agree," with a link to a petition on the Conservative Party website.

In a response to Vitor Marciano, a former federal Conservative policy chair and one-time Wild Rose press secretary, Lukaszuk defended his view:

"Aside from questionable campaign tactic, why would a governing party ask to be petitioned for added police funding?" he wondered.

Asked for comment, a spokesman for the Conservatives deflected Lukaszuk's concerns.

"We should all be troubled when jihadi terrorists single out very specific locations in our country, and call on their followers to attack it," party communications director Cory Hann told CBC News.

In an interview with Metro published Thursday, veteran Conservative MP Laurie Hawn said he "wouldn't have posted it" if he were in charge.

"We have to be careful not to underreact — we have to treat the threat seriously — and we have to be careful not to overreact,” he told the newspaper.

Edmonton-area Conservative MP Tim Uppal, who also serves as minister of state for multiculturalism, defended the post.

"The international jihadi movement absolutely has declared war on Canada. What we are doing is trying to keep Canadians safe,” he told CBC News.

Meanwhile, Press Progress, a website affiliated with the Broadbent Institute, suggested the Facebook post could be illegal under the government's proposed anti-terrorism bill, which would make it illegal to knowingly promote or advocate the commission of terrorism offences in general.

According to one law expert, it is "possible" the Conservative post might fall under that category.

University of Toronto professor Kent Roach, co-author of an extensive report on the bill, told CBC News via email that all that is required is "knowing promotion and some awareness someone may commit an offence as a result."

Earlier this year, both the federal Conservatives and their Liberal rivals were forced to perform hasty edits on their respective party webpages after a link at the top of their pages made it appear both were attempting to raise money on the Oct. 22 attacks in Ottawa.