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People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, pictured here on Jan. 27, 2019, said at a press conference on Parliament Hill Monday morning that he is not 'playing politics' with tragedies and accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of exploiting the massacre by continuing to talk about the tragic event.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier says it’s party policy not to comment on tragic events in other countries in the wake of criticism over his response to the deadly massacre at two mosques in New Zealand.

Mr. Bernier said at a press conference on Parliament Hill Monday morning that he is not “playing politics” with tragedies and accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of exploiting the massacre by continuing to talk about the tragic event.

His comments come almost two weeks after the pair of deadly shootings in Christchurch that left 50 people dead. Facing criticism on Twitter for his silence, Mr. Bernier tweeted that “as a rule” he doesn’t comment on “these horrible tragedies in other countries.”

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“I said what I have to say on Twitter and I think I was very clear about that. That’s our policy,” he said Monday.

The day after the attacks Mr. Bernier said on Twitter that he "won’t utter platitudes about situations over which I have zero influence, nor send my ‘thoughts and prayers’ to people abroad who have never heard of me, just to score political points. My job is to focus on Canada and serve Canadians.”

When asked what he would say to those who accuse him of stoking hate and fear by not condemning the massacre, he said, “I said to everybody that if you want to be part of this party, if you want to be members of this party, you must share our values.”

“So people who don’t share our values, they can create their own party. They’re not welcome in our party.”

Mr. Bernier was on Parliament Hill Monday to provide an update on the status of his party, which he said has launched a candidate selection process that includes an online application for those interested in running for election.

“We will be ready, yes we will be ready, with 338 candidates for the general election,” he said.

The former Conservative MP also made a point of noting that his party is not only attracting would-be Conservative supporters, but also people who back other political parties as well as those who didn’t vote in the last federal election.

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