Politics

Poilievre faces calls to apologize, explain misogynist YouTube tags

YouTube videos uploaded to Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's YouTube channel included a tag associated with a misogynist men's rights movement — and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling on him to apologize.

Poilievre's office says it doesn't know who added the tag, which was on videos going back to 2018

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre addresses the caucus in Ottawa on Sept. 12. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

YouTube videos uploaded to Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's YouTube channel included a tag associated with a misogynist men's rights movement — and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling on him to apologize.

"MGTOW," which stands for "Men going their own way," was a tag on YouTube videos on Poilievre's channel going back to 2018. Global News first reported the story and reported finding the tag on 50 of Poilievre's most recent YouTube videos.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Poilievre to apologize in the House of Commons Thursday.

"If it were not for Global News, we would not have learned that the Conservative leader has been purposefully using his videos to appeal to far-right, misogynistic online movements," Trudeau said in the House of Commons.

"These are anti-women movements and they have had devastating real-life consequences. Mr. Speaker, I call on the Conservative leader to stand in this House, take responsibility and apologize."

WATCH | Trudeau and Poilievre debate use of misogynist YouTube tag:

Trudeau and Poilievre debate use of misogynist YouTube tag

2 months ago
Duration 3:08
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre trade shots during question period over the use of a misogynist hashtag on Poilievre's YouTube channel.

Poilievre did not apologize. He said he has addressed the issue.

"I condemned this organization and I corrected the problem as soon as it became known to me, Mr. Speaker," Poilievre said.

"I condemn all forms of misogyny, including when the prime minister fired the very first female Indigenous attorney general." 

Poilievre was referring to Jody Wilson-Raybould, who left the Liberal cabinet over the SNC-Lavalin affair and was later expelled from the Liberal caucus by Trudeau.

"I condemn when he mistreated minority young women in his own caucus, who had to leave politics," Poilievre said.

Poilievre also attacked Trudeau for wearing racist costumes, a scandal which came to light in 2019.

Global reported that the tags were deleted soon after it inquired about them. CBC News was able to confirm the existence of the tags using Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

A YouTube help page says tags are "descriptive keywords you can add to your video to help viewers find your content."

Anthony Koch, a spokesperson for Poilievre, said Poilievre's office doesn't know who added the tag.

"[Poilievre] has confirmed with current staff who were with his office in 2018 that they did not add the tag," Koch told CBC News.

"When Global News brought it to his attention, Mr. Poilievre had the tag immediately removed and condemns the group in question along with all misogyny."

Poilievre responded to a question from Liberal MP Mark Gerretsen about the tags in the House of Commons Thursday morning.

"Of course we on this side reject all misogyny and all acts of extremism, and that is how we will always conduct ourselves over here," Poilievre said.

MGTOW associated with male supremacy: experts

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists the MGTOW acronym in a page on the male supremacy ideology. The SPLC defines MGTOW as men "who present themselves as male separatists and have chosen to remove themselves from the negative influence of women entirely."

Jacob Johanssen, a professor of communications at St Mary's University in London, U.K., said MGTOW is an online community that can be defined "male supremacist or isolationist."

"Men who advocate a MGTOW lifestyle wish to live in isolation from women and cut women out of their lives as much as possible," Johanssen said in an email.

"Many MGTOW men exhibit deeply misogynist views and discuss women at length. They share experiences in which they have been allegedly treated badly or rejected by women and as a result wish to live alone or among male peers. Some claim that they enjoy being single and see no point in dating or heterosexual relationships."

Johanssen said it's difficult to determine how many men associate themselves with the MGTOW ideology.

"The community tends to have a presence on different social media platforms like Reddit, YouTube or Twitter and it is difficult to get a sense of who subscribes to that lifestyle or is just curious, for example," Johanssen said.

Reddit banned a MGTOW community last year for violating the website's rules on hate speech. The video-sharing platform TikTok banned the MGTOW hashtag last year, according to a report from Vice News.

Rebecca Sullivan, a professor of gender and sexuality studies at the University of Calgary, said "MGTOWs" are part of a broader "Manosphere" — an overarching term for largely online groups of men who feel that they are oppressed by women.

Rebecca Sullivan, a professor at the University of Calgary, says men going their own way (MGTOW) reject any kind of romantic relationship with women. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

"[MGTOWs] have voluntarily rejected any kind of romantic or committed relationship with women," Sullivan said in an interview.

"The reason they are going their own way is because they believe that women, as a group, are organized to oppress men, to use our abundant sexual power to deceive men, to steal their money, to destroy their lives, to take their homes, to ruin their careers."

Sullivan said that while Poilievre didn't add the tags himself, that doesn't alleviate her concern.

"He does have a very polished machine on social media. He has experts and he has professionals, he has people who know what to do ... Why is he attractive to [the MGTOW] community?" she said.

Politicians react to tags

Alain Rayes, a Quebec independent member of Parliament who left the Conservative Party following Poilievre's leadership victory, called for the person responsible for the tag to be fired.

"This is unacceptable! I can believe that @PierrePoilievre did not associate this keyword himself, but he must fire the person who did immediately," Rayes said in a tweet Thursday.

"This is the minimum expected from a leader."

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland did not mention Poilievre when asked about the tag. She instead called on her colleagues in Parliament to fight sexism and misogyny.

"I think we need to be, all of us, very, very aware of the sexism, the misogyny that still exists in the world today," she told a media scrum.

"[Political leaders] need to be sure that every single thing we do reinforces that and makes Canadian women and girls safer and not less safe."

Andréanne Larouche, the Bloc Québécois spokesperson for the status of women, accused Poilievre of associating with far-right movements.

"Pierre Poilievre flirts with the far right since day one of his leadership race. New leader, same Conservative Party with a dark record on women's rights," she said in a tweet.

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to clarify that Jody Wilson-Raybould left the Liberal cabinet and was later expelled from the Liberal caucus by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
    Oct 06, 2022 6:15 PM ET

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