Conservative MPs slammed journalist Dale Smith for his tweet suggesting MP Garnett Genuis is similar to a lame horse that should be shot.
Smith, a freelance journalist in the Parliamentary Press Gallery, was responding to Genuis' comments during Question Period on Wednesday when he included lyrics from Bohemian Rhapsody in his question.
Genuis was poking fun at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who elicited condemnation from many Canadians for singing two night's before the funeral for Queen Elizabeth.
"Is this real life? Because that answer was pure fantasy," Genuis said. "We have inflation, landslides and no escape from poverty. When will the prime minister open up his eyes and see he's not a poor boy, but he should have some sympathy?"
Smith said of Genuis' song parody, "when horses are this lame, you shoot them."
That comment elicited immediate condemnation from several MPs. Current Conservative House Leader and former party leader Andrew Scheer called Smith a "complete hypocrite" for using a "violent metaphor invoking an image of shooting someone you disagree with."
"You are a member of the parliamentary press gallery. If a Conservative MP did something like this, you would be the first to demand their resignation."
Andrew Scheer, attempting to rage-farm once again. https://t.co/nQqS83hOWk— Dale Smith (@journo_dale) September 21, 2022
Hours later, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre gave his thoughts on Smith's comments. "So a member of the press gallery tweets that a Conservative MP should be shot. Where is the outrage? Have the prime minister or journalists condemned this incitement to violence?"
Smith responded to Poilievre's Tweet with a gif of a soccer player exaggerating an injury.
Conservative MP and party's Public Safety Critic Raquel Dancho also waded into the conversation, saying Smith's comments were " deeply disturbing, threatening and unacceptable."
Shocked and appalled by this Parliamentary Press Gallery journalist insinuating an MP should be shot. It is deeply disturbing, threatening and unacceptable. I don’t care if it was a crass joke or not. He crossed a line. https://t.co/XDXBfnIk3a— Raquel Dancho (@RaquelDancho) September 22, 2022
During Question Period on Thursday, Genuis rose in the House of Commons to call for Smith's press gallery privileges to be suspended pending further review.
"In the current climate we should all know the risks associated with explicitly inciting violence against public officials," the Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan MP said.
"Some would say surely he is joking, but the problem with so-called jokes implying threats towards public officials is that I, as the target of these comments, [am] somehow supposed to understand and be OK with a threat on the basis of someone's presumed intentions. And I'm just not OK with this," Genuis said.
Dancho and Scheer also asked the Speaker of the House to consider suspending Smith's privileges pending an investigation into whether he should be removed from the gallery permanently.
In a Thursday blog post, Smith doubled down on his comments, denying that he was insinuating Genuis should be shot.
"I did no such thing and I owe him no apology. If anything, he owes everyone an apology for subjecting us to his attempt to be clever with the lyrics of Bohemian Rhapsody," he wrote.
Smith accused the Conservative party of trying to "silence" journalists who are critical of them. "They howl and moan, in the hopes that you either apologize and retract, and then they know that you're weak and that they can silence you through these kinds of tactics.," he said.
On Thursday, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner also called on Smith to apologize and retract his statement.
"Your colleagues and MPs deal with death threats and threats of violence. I do. Ask Rachel Gilmore and others," Rempel Garner tweeted.
Rempel Garner has repeatedly spoken about her experiences with harassment on the campaign trail, while Gilmore received several death threats for her reporting on white supremacy and extremism over the last few months.
"I know you think this is a joke, but it’s not," Rempel Garner said. "Using the words 'shoot them' when referring to an elected official normalizes violence. That is no joking matter."
Rempel Garner added Smith's decision to "dig his heels in on this" suggested the press gallery is "tone deaf on this issue."