Politics

Calgary Liberal candidate apologizes for misleading leaflets attacking Conservative opponent

Del Arnold, a candidate for the Liberal Party in Calgary Shepard, has apologized to Conservative rival Tom Kmiec for spreading misleading information about Kmiec and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.

Doesn't apologize for a tweet linking Scheer to 'white supremacy'

Del Arnold, a Liberal candidate in the riding of Calgary Shepard, has apologized for circulating misleading information about his Conservative rival, Tom Kmiec. (Del Arnold/Liberal Party)

Del Arnold, a candidate for the Liberal Party in Calgary Shepard, has apologized to Conservative rival Tom Kmiec for spreading misleading information about his place of residence — but hasn't apologized for a tweet that accused Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer of having links to "white supremacy" and a fatal rally in Virginia.

The tweet claimed Scheer was linked to "the attacks in Charlottesville"  — an apparent reference to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017— although the tweet was deleted after CBC News asked about it.

In a tweet posted September 14, Del Arnold accused Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer of links to white supremacy and of "helping to organize the attacks in Charlottesville." The tweet has since been deleted. (Del Arnold/Twitter)

"It's just outlandish to accuse the leader of Canada's Conservatives, the leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, of planning anything in Charlottesville. It's not even the same country, nothing to do with us," said Kmiec, who called on Arnold to apologize for that as well.

"Andrew Scheer has gone out, we've all gone out and condemned neo-Nazi rallies like that. We've been very clear about it, those types of people don't have a place in our party," said Kmiec.

Brock Harrison, a Scheer spokesman, scoffed at the tweet.

"It's not at all surprising to see Liberals stoop to false, ridiculous and personal attacks like these," he said in an email. "Liberals can't defend Justin Trudeau's record of scandal and tax hikes so they resort to nonsense like this."

Leaflet claimed Kmiec lived in Quebec

On Monday afternoon, Kmiec posted a video to his Facebook and Twitter accounts in which he held an Arnold campaign leaflet that he said spread "a bunch of lies."

The leaflet claimed that Kmiec lived in Quebec and not in the riding. It also misspelled Kmiec's first name as Tim.

Kmiec said a supporter notified him by email about the leaflet and he thought it was a bad joke until he had a closer look.

"It was just totally outlandish. It was like a hit piece on me," said Kmiec, who was elected as the Conservative MP for Calgary Shepard in 2015.

While Kmiec grew up in Quebec and has a degree in political science from Concordia University in Montreal, he said he moved to Alberta in 2005 and has lived in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Auburn Bay for about a decade.

According to his campaign website, Arnold also lives Auburn Bay.

After Kmiec posted the video criticizing the leaflet, Arnold replied on Twitter: "And I forgot our deed searches found Tom Kmiec not owning (any) property in Alberta."

However, Kmiec said he used his full legal name, Tomasz Kmiec, in the deed for his property and suggested Arnold hadn't done due diligence in searching the records.

Del Arnold replied to Tom Kmiec, after Kmiec posted a video on social media criticizing him over a campaign leaflet. (Del Arnold/Twitter)

Kmiec said he thought the accusation was a weird thing to do to someone running in the same riding.

"It's just odd. I've never done that to anybody I run against," he said.

Arnold apologizes in tweets

On Tuesday night, Arnold apologized for the leaflet in a series of tweets.

"Recently, it was brought to my attention that materials distributed by my campaign incorrectly identified my opponent's primary place of residence," he wrote.

"I sincerely apologize for this unintentional error, and once this was brought to my attention we ceased distribution of the material immediately. It was not my intent to mislead the voters of Calgary Shepard, and we will ensure this does not happen again."

Arnold did not respond to a request for comment from CBC News and the Liberal Party referred CBC News to Arnold's apology.

"I'm glad he's actually taking ownership and saying sorry and that's the right thing to do, and letting everybody know that what he had put on a slide was incorrect and it was just a falsehood, a lie," said Kmiec.

Arnold did not, however, explain his reasoning behind a Sept. 14 tweet which accused Scheer of "helping to organize the attacks in Charlottesville." In that incident, a self-described neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of people protesting white supremacy, killing a 32-year-old woman. The driver was convicted of murder.

The tweet was deleted Tuesday afternoon, after CBC News contacted Arnold and the Liberal Party.

Want to learn how to spot deepfakes, altered photos and articles that may look like they're from news sites — but aren't? Try our Facebook Messenger chat bot.

Tips? Email: andrea.bellemare@cbc.ca

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrea Bellemare is a reporter and producer with CBC Radio. She helped launch the new CBC Kitchener-Waterloo radio station in 2013 and worked as a producer there for half a decade, reported for CBC Montreal, produced radio documentaries for CBC Radio and covered disinformation for CBC News. She has also reported for the wire service Agence France-Presse.

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