Sorry Not Sorry: Chris Bittle Now Accuses Geist of Bullying Him Into Calling Geist a Racist

Rage tweeting Liberal MP just keeps digging. He is now accusing Michael Geist of bullying him into calling him a racist.

So far, the series of events that unfolded in the CMAC/Government scandal has been nothing short of breathtaking. It started with a critical member of CMAC, paid to advise the Canadian government on a strategy to fighting racism in the country, making antisemitic tweets. Warnings were flagged for over a month to the government, but those warnings went ignored. When Michael Geist highlighted the issue, government officials started playing the finger pointing game, saying that it wasn’t their file. When the story got picked up by the media, the story grew too hot to handle for the government and the contract was dropped.

The direction the story should have taken, at that point, is that government officials saying that there will be an investigation into the events leading up to that point and condemnation for the tweets that were posted. While Liberal MP, Anthony Housefather did that, it seemed that other MPs decided to play things out differently.

Liberal MP, Chris Bittle decided to repeat the finger pointing game, saying how the comments directed at Pablo Rodriguez were not right. This despite Rodriguez being the Minister for Canadian Heritage and this issue revolving around the Heritage Ministry. For one, Rodriguez is the leader of the department. For another, even if this incident wasn’t specifically under his control, there was nothing stopping him from condemning the antisemitic tweets and applauding the cutting of the organizations funding. Something we have yet to see him do.

While these comments could have been attributed to the typical harassing behaviour of Bittle, what happened next was clearly over the line. Bittle would later suggest that Michael Geist is a racist for pointing this issue out, suggesting that Geist’s comments are only the result of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen being black. Here is the text of the now deleted tweet along with image:

At this point, you’re now deliberately misleading your followers. So strange. I’m told you’re a respected academic. Why would a respected academic do that?

Blinded by hate for Pablo?

Is it because the Minister responsible looks like this

Geist had never directed his comments at Bittle up to that point. Still, those over the line comments did finally garner a response from Geist:

I’m the grandson of holocaust survivors who thinks it shouldn’t be too much to ask the Heritage Minister to say something – anything – about officials in his department funding an anti-semite despite multiple warnings. Instead, the Parliamentary Secretary suggests I’m racist.

A day later, Bittle apologized for the comments:

Yesterday, in a moment of anger, I made an implication about @mgeist that was unfounded and inappropriate. I hold myself to a higher standard for the office that I hold and I apologize to Professor Geist. I have deleted the offending tweet.

With the dust seemingly settled, both Geist and I apparently had the same idea to post up reflections on the events. For Geist, there was reason to worry that in the anti-racism strategy, antisemitism was taking a back seat. For myself, I reflected on how hyper-partisanship has taken over for sound debate on different issues. For the most part, it seemed like this whole affair might be over.

Apparently, not so much.

In comments made to the media, Bittle has walked back his apology, saying that Geist is a bully and that it was all Geist’s fault that he made his racism accusation in the first place. From The Standard:

While acknowledging comments he posted on Twitter last week implying University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist was racist went too far, St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle said he was goaded by online bullying.

“I got bullied by a bully and got baited into a tweet,” Bittle said.

Geist denied being a bully, adding none of his recent tweets were directed at Bittle.

In an interview Tuesday, Bittle said his tweet was the result of growing frustration after previous interactions with Geist.

“There was frustration, there was anger for the suggestion that my friend was antisemitic, even though it’s not his file. It’s all of that wrapped into it. But I did go too far,” he said. “We’re human and we can only be pushed so much until we break. I goofed up. I’m just a person behind that keyboard, but it was important for me to acknowledge what I did went too far. It was important to apologize.”

It’s not the first time Bittle has become involved in online feuds, including with Geist.

“There’s no love lost between the two of us,” Bittle said.

“I don’t deal well with bullies, having dealt with that in my past. I’m someone who stands up and speaks their mind and I’m usually most aggressive on Twitter when it comes to issues of racism and misogyny.”

How is it not a reasonable response to say to Bittle “Dude, shut up already!”? Bittle could have walked away from this somewhat burned from his own remarks, but he chose to just keep digging. You really have to wonder how it is that this guy actually became an MP in the first place. Between constantly blaming others for his own mistakes and being thin-skinned enough to block anyone who dares to criticize him, it’s like he can’t help but be a complete disgrace in every situation possible.

The article notes that Geist has muted Bittle on Twitter for a month which is, honestly, a pretty reasonable move under the circumstances.

What’s truly exasperating in all of this is how everything about this was self-inflicted on Bittle. Did he have to continue harassing Geist all the way up to the original racism allegation? No. Did he have to double down right after those accusations? No. Could he have dropped the whole thing after he apologized? Yes. Did he have to accuse Geist of being a bully after the fact to the media? No.

If I was advising Bittle, I would recommend anger management at this point. It’s plain as day that there are better ways of conducting ones self and that didn’t happen. The optics in all of this is terrible for Bittle not just for his conduct in the immediate, but also, for future engagements. Would you really want to show up at Committee meetings to discuss something like Bill C-18 (link taxes) knowing that if you don’t tow the government line, you might have false accusations lobbed at you? Probably not. Would it be appropriate to have Bittle be in committee meetings discussing the online harms proposal at a future time after all of this? Not likely.

Hopefully, Geist muting Bittle will be what turns down the temperature in all of this. Clearly, Bittle isn’t the one capable of doing this, so maybe Geist doing this will accomplish that goal instead.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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