A PEI pub has pulled photos of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from its social media accounts after a barrage of hateful comments and phone calls.
Trudeau had lunch at Lone Oak’s Charlottetown pub last week during a short stop on the island.
In the pub, owners, staff and customers had their picture taken with the prime minister. The pub later posted those photos on its social media platforms.
Jared Murphy, co-owner and CEO of Lone Oak Brewing Company, said they were delighted to host the premier at the pub, which didn’t open until mid-May.
‘We received thousands of responses’
Three of PEI’s four Liberal MPs, including Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, Malpeque MP Heath MacDonald and Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay, were also at the pub, appearing in some photos with the Prime Minister.
“So within a few hours we had thousands of comments, we got hundreds of private messages, we’re getting calls to the brewery now and all these comments are extremely negative, vulgar, there’s a lot of profanity being used, sexualizing our staff,” Murphy said in an outside interview. the pub.
“To see a group of individuals, who have never even visited our establishment, who take a political stance, make threats against our brewery, say that they are going to take us down, that they will wait for us to declare bankruptcy until they are ready with us, that was really hard for our staff to see,” he said.
In addition to the comments on social media, private messages and phone calls, photos of the three owners of Lone Oak have appeared on a national website calling out alleged supporters of Trudeau.
‘Of course this seemed to backfire’
Casey described the campaign against Lone Oak as “extremely unhappy”. He said he had contacted the Prime Minister’s office and was told this has happened in other parts of Canada, but that this is the first time it has happened in Atlantic Canada.
The Charlottetown MP came up with the idea that Trudeau should have lunch at the pub.
“I feel bad that the owners are going through this,” Casey said.
“Even if I had considered the flip side, I would still have recommended them. It’s an honor to have someone come over in public life and it’s a good profile for the company,” he said.
“Of course this seemed to backfire to some extent, but I am confident that the islanders will rally behind this company and that most of the people who are offering this abuse are not from here.”
‘It was nothing political’
Malpeque MP Heath MacDonald said the purpose of the Prime Minister’s visit to the pub was to help a small business.
MacDonald blamed “right-wing extremism” for the campaign against the PEI pub.
“This is a new business, three young guys trying to try it,” MacDonald said.
“It was nothing political, it was a visit to a restaurant and a chance for them to present to a prime minister.”
Back at the pub, Murphy said the negative comments haven’t had a major impact on his business yet. He said a handful of people who say they’ve supported the pub in the past told him they wouldn’t be coming back.
But he is concerned about an online campaign to lower his pub’s ratings.
‘It’s a bit counter-intuitive’
Since the launch of that online campaign against Lone Oak, the pub’s rating has dropped from 4.8 out of 5 to 2.8.
“And that could negatively impact our business, which is really really disappointing to see,” said Murphy, adding that PEI is a popular tourist destination and many tourists use those reviews to decide where to go.
“For the group of individuals who are now threatening a small business, it’s quite counterintuitive to the point they’re making against the Prime Minister.”
Political commentator and journalist Rick MacLean said the political landscape in Canada is getting nastier and he points the finger at the US. He believes it’s a new reality being pushed by social media platforms, and Lone Oak is paying the price.
“I think social media has fundamentally changed the way we get our information and I’m concerned that because it’s changed the way we get our information it will change the way we behave, not just how we vote, but how we treat each other.” others and how we deal with politicians,” MacLean said.
‘I would definitely open my company to any elected official’
The owners of the pub have not ruled out going to the police with their concerns.
Despite the online firestorm, Murphy said he would have the prime minister back no matter what political streak.
“I would certainly open my case to any elected official in our democratic country.”