“Joel Smollett,” NDP MPP scrutinized after claiming he was punched at Ottawa gender ideology protest
“Joel Smollett,” NDP MPP scrutinized after claiming he was punched at Ottawa gender ideology protest

Ontario socialist NDP MPP Joel Harden is facing scrutiny after claiming to have been punched at a protest against gender ideology in Ottawa last week – amid footage that appears to show him being hit by his own megaphone.

Many have since accused the Ottawa-Centre representative of lying, while others are comparing him to American actor Jussie Smolett – who notoriously staged a hate crime in 2019.

Harden, who protested in favour of gender ideology along with members Antifa and other left-wing activists, shared a photo of himself with a cut on his face. “I’ll take a punch for queer and trans youth any day,” he wrote.

Harden’s post received reactions from both Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles and federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh – who both called on governments to take more action to protect transgender people.

However, footage published online shows Harden appearing to be hit at the same place he claims to have been punched at, by his own megaphone.

The NDP MPP then put out a statement online, where he said “last Friday, I broke up several altercations or near altercations that got started by anti-trans protesters… In one of these occasions, a woman was grabbing another woman by the hair. I put my body between them and separated them.”

“After separating them, I looked over my shoulder and was punched,” he added. “I was holding a megaphone against my face. The blow glanced off the megaphone and my face was cut. The woman left and the altercation ended.”

Harden did not share footage of the described altercation on Twitter – and his office did not respond to a query from True North about the existence of such footage. 

Furthermore, footage showing an altercation where a woman grabs another woman by the hair does not appear to show Harden – who was wearing a rainbow suit at the protest.

True North reached out to the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) to ask if it had any information on the incident. The force declined to comment on specific situations.

“We do not comment on active investigations or disseminate any information regarding complainants or victims”, said an OPS spokesperson. “We encourage anyone to file a report online or through our Police Reporting Unit.”

“Five individuals were arrested for assault on Friday during the demonstration. They were all released from police custody unconditionally, and no charges were laid.”

Harden said he does not want the woman who he claims punched him to be criminally charged, instead opting to offer to meet her. “It is what it is, I’m totally fine anyway,” Harden told Toronto outlet The Trillium.

A Twitter Community Note was also added to Harden’s initial tweet in which he claimed to have been punched.

Several prominent figures have since scrutinized Harden, and accused him of lying. Those criticizing him include YouTuber Viva Frei, who attended the protest, as well as renowned author and psychologist Jordan Peterson.

Protest organizer Chris Elston, commonly known as Billboard Chris, also criticized Harden and referred to him as “Jussie Harden,” while others referred to him as “Joel Smollet,” referencing American actor Jussie Smolett – who staged a hate crime in 2019.

It should be noted that this is not the first time that Harden, a self-described socialist, has been the cause of controversy.

Harden previously made antisemitic comments on a podcast, leading to condemnation from Jewish Groups.

“I have asked many questions of Jewish neighbours here about how much longer we should put up with this,” said Harden in 2021. “If I were to name the single greatest threat, the single greatest origin of violence in the Middle East, it is unquestionably the state of Israel and the way in which they feel absolutely no shame in defying international law.” 

After initially defending his comments, Harden apologized. “I spoke in a way that perpetrated an antisemitic stereotype towards Jewish neighbours. I regret my choice of words and sincerely apologize to the Jewish community.”

“You have my commitment that it won’t happen again and I will continue to work with Jewish leaders who can help me understand antisemitism.”

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