‘A total and absolute lie’: Victoria’s mayor says hateful tweet being shared is false

WatchVictoria's mayor is no stranger to online hate and anger but she says a tweet currently circulating about her is an outright lie. It alleges Lisa Helps is taking down all the city's Christmas lights and it's been shared more than a thousand times. April Lawrence reports.

When Lisa Helps was first sworn in as Victoria’s mayor five years ago she likely had no idea the kind of social media target she would become.

“I think it’s because I’m a female politician that’s easy to target and easy to hate quite frankly,” Helps said.

But it’s a recent tweet, claiming Helps is going to take down the city’s Christmas lights, that has her ready to abandon Twitter altogether. She only learned about it Sunday when she started getting angry emails from across the country.

“Telling me what a beep beep beep I am for cancelling Christmas and I just thought where is this coming from?” she said.

Helps says she had to respond because, despite being shared more than a thousand times, the tweet isn’t actually true.

It was Victoria Councillor Ben Isitt that asked the city to review it’s seasonal decor budget in December 2018 to make sure it is inclusive. But Helps says this year’s Christmas light display in Centennial Square will actually be bigger than ever.

Now other politicians are stepping in to support her

“It’s a fabrication and it’s a lie and it goes beyond any realm of what’s acceptable,” said View Royal Mayor David Screech.

Screech himself has been a target of online backlash

“It really makes you stop and think about being on social media period,” he said.

One political scientist says it’s become an important but often unpleasant part of the job

“Unfortunately it is, but we do know that women and politicians of colour, especially if they have an accent, will experience this more-so in terms of being attacked,” said University of Victoria Political Scientist Janni Aragon.

“They already don’t like her, they might not like Victoria our little hippy flower town, or however they view it, so they’re going to share it and not think is this even correct,” she said.

Helps is urging people to check their sources before sharing anything online.

“What about a deep breath first then ask myself, huh is this true?” Helps said.

And despite her threat to leave Twitter, Helps doesn’t actually plan on saying goodbye any time soon.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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