Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault is in hot water after removing a tweet in which he labelled the California Lunar New Year shooting as an anti-Asian racist attack before information on the shooter was made available by police authorities. 

In the now-deleted tweet and Facebook post, Guilbeault blamed the attack on “hatred towards Asian people.” 

“Sadly, hatred towards Asian people overshadowed the celebrations, and this barbaric act is proof that we must remain vigilant against racism. Hoping that the victims and families will be courageous in this time of grief,” said Guilbeault. 

Guilbeault’s tweet prompted immediate backlash on social media after it became apparent that the minister’s framing was not accurate and based on presumption. 

The shooter was identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, who is of Vietnamese origin. His motive is currently under investigation. 

In his former role as Minister of Canadian Heritage, Guilbeault was tasked with drafting legislation to combat misinformation and hate speech. 

On Sunday morning, Tran, who targeted a dance studio in Monterey Park died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The suspect also traveled to another nearby venue in Alhambra to attack more people but bystanders wrestled his firearm away from him. 

The bloody massacre left ten dead and nearly a dozen injured. 

Guilbeault is not the only senior member of the Liberal government to spread false claims about racially charged incidents. In 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made public statements about a Toronto girl who claimed an Asian man cut her hijab with scissors while walking to school. 

“My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto,” Trudeau tweeted at the time. 

“Canada is an open and welcoming country and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.”

Upon police investigation the story was determined to be a hoax. Trudeau did not release any subsequent comments on the matter. 

The tweet prompted protesters to demand an apology from the prime minister for demonizing the Asian community. 

“(Trudeau’s) behaviour has hurt everyone, not just Asians. By not apologizing, it just stirs up racial tensions and hate between communities,” said protester Bob Peng.