Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said today he “didn’t hear” a question about an infamous — and debunked — conspiracy theory connecting the Clinton Foundation to a child sex ring during a town hall event in Kitchener, Ont. last night.
At one point during the event, a member of the audience rose to ask a two-minute question touching on several subjects, including immigration funding and international aid. He then linked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the mythical conspiracy known as “pizzagate.”
“Trudeau gave $600 million to the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation is part of child trafficking and child sacrifice, if you study it. It’s in pizzagate,” he said.
“The PM, if he knows about the foundation, should he be in jail for that one? Also, he needs to pay back the $600 million plus his trips to the Canadians.”
The conspiracy theory accuses former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of running a child sex ring out of Comet Ping Pong, a pizza shop in Washington, D.C.
Pizzagate is often cited in discussions about the real-life dangers of false news online. In 2016, a North Carolina man fired an assault rifle inside the restaurant as he attempted to “self-investigate” the unfounded internet rumours about Democrats hiding child sex slaves there.
While no one was injured in the pizzagate incident, a U.S. judge told gunman Edgar Welch that his actions “literally left psychological wreckage.” Welch was sentenced to four years in prison.
In his response to the questioner, Scheer did not say the pizzagate theory was false — although he did pick up on the Clinton Foundation angle.
“Yes. Well, I appreciate your concerns on this,” he replied.
“I can assure you that when you look at where Justin Trudeau has spent money, it’s clear that a huge sum of the dollars that he is taken from Canadian taxpayers has gone to his own personal projects.
“You mentioned that the Clinton Foundation … there are other examples where Justin Trudeau’s government has given grants to hire people for groups that are, you know, advocating for their own particular ideology, specifically fighting against things like pipelines and building our infrastructure to be able to get our energy to international markets.”
When asked why he didn’t confront the conspiracy theory at the time, Scheer said he didn’t hear that part of the question.
“I heard the question was related to the government’s, Justin Trudeau’s decision to give a grant to the Clinton Foundation. That was what I answered. I didn’t hear anything about the other aspect that you just mentioned,” he told reporters during a stop in Rosser, Man. today.
“I didn’t hear that. I heard the Clinton Foundation part of the question, I heard other parts of the question, but I certainly didn’t hear that.”
A spokesperson for Trudeau accused Scheer of promoting falsehoods, citing his attacks on the federal government’s embrace of the UN Global Compact on Migration. Scheer has said he fears the document could exert an influence over Canada’s immigration system — even though it is not a treaty and is not binding on the nations that support it.
Spokesperson Eleanore Catenaro also criticized Scheer for “sharing a stage” at the recent United We Roll protest with Faith Goldy, a former Rebel Media commentator who was let go from her job at Rebel Media after appearing on a podcast affiliated with the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer.
“It’s no surprise Andrew Scheer refused to condemn this, given his clear history of promoting conspiracy theories and spreading misleading information, including his comments on the UN migration compact,” said Catenaro. “He has also refused to condemn the hateful language at recent events on Parliament Hill at which he shared the stage with far-right groups.”
Scheer’s press secretary told CBC News today the Conservative leader “does not keep up with paranoid, American alt-right conspiracy theories and as such was not familiar with the term until it came up in the questioning today.”
“Since learning about the pizzagate conspiracy, Mr. Scheer obviously believes it is ridiculous and dangerous, and that such conspiracies have no place in our political debate,” said Daniel Schow in an email.
Liberals and Tories have made donations
Canada has contributed $20 million over five years to the Clinton Health Access Initiative. According to the Global Affairs website, the initiative helps improve access to sexual and reproductive health services for women and girls in Nigeria.
The former Conservative government, which Scheer was a part of, has also contributed to the initiative going back to 2014.
Trudeau also has been confronted with false allegations during his town hall tours.
During a stop in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que. in January, one questioner asked what the prime minister is going to do to prevent Shariah law from being imposed in Canada
“I can tell you sir that the law in Canada, even in Ontario, is not the Shariah law and will not be Shariah law,” he said.
This story originally appeared on CBC