Local OPP spokesperson muzzled amid 'reprehensible' Facebook post backlash

OPP Const. Christopher Doupe gives a talk about personal safety during the Lambton Farm Safety Association's Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in Brigden July 5. Carl Hnatyshyn/Sarnia This Week PT

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SARNIA – The local Ontario Provincial Police officer who serves as the face of the force in Lambton County is out as spokesperson, at least for now, amid a deepening backlash over Facebook comments that mocked gays and menstruation.

The Facebook remarks – posted in response to a local news organization’s public Facebook post, and first reported by The Sarnia Observer – sparked shock and anger across Southwestern Ontario as even more controversial Facebook posts linked to Const. Chris Doupe surfaced.

“Your (derogatory term for female genitalia) is a taxpayers issue? Are you serious?” read the initial controversial comment, posted by a personal Facebook account of Chris Doupe. “Allow a couple of rainbows and some tampons … what’s next? Chris Doupe for Mayor!”

The genitalia comment was in response to a news story about Sarnia city council’s debate over whether to offer free tampons in public places. The “rainbow” remark appears to be a reference to a Sarnia city council debate over creating a possible rainbow-coloured crosswalk as a nod to the gay community.

Derek Rogers, who oversees media relations for OPP detachments across the London region, said Wednesday that all Lambton-area media issues would be handled by an officer from Huron County for the next week.

Rogers did not say whether Doupe would be reprimanded or permanently replaced as Lambton County spokesperson.

“The OPP is looking into the circumstances surrounding the post and we do take the matter seriously,” Rogers wrote in an email. “We hold our members accountable for their actions while on duty and off.”

But the issue is bound to get more complicated, with The Sarnia Observer on Wednesday obtaining screen-shot images of other comments from Doupe’s personal Facebook account. They read:

  • In remarks that appeared to mock a group’s effort to have a gay-pride “rainbow” crosswalk painted on a Sarnia intersection, he wrote: “I am a hunter and a golfer. I feel that people in this city refer to me as an animal killer/abuser. I also golf. I have found that my male counter parts (sic.) refer to me as somewhat of a feminine (sic.) because I play golf. I will be seeking/asking the city to paint a collage of a nature scene incorporated with a golf course. I feel that this will really educate and soften those who criticize me.”
  • In a Facebook post slamming proposed classroom spending cuts: “Look at this crap. The Liberal-loving Teachers Union (sic.) has enough cash to spend on propaganda trash! Bob Bailey (local MPP) and the PCs are doing a great job digging us out off the Liberal hole?! (sic.).”

Contacted Wednesday about the tampon comments, activists in Sarnia sought to find a potential positive.

Michelle Parks is organizing the city’s first Tampon Tuesday collection drive this month to help stock the shelves of Sarnia’s Inn of the Good Shepherd. She said the uproar caused by the Facebook comments – and the ensuing backlash from the community – could be a good thing.

“(It’s) really unfortunate. I find it very disappointing,” Parks said. “But on the positive side, it created a lot of attention for the actual issue and the decision council has before them … that’s a good thing. People are talking about menstrual equality and period poverty.”

Lila Palychuk, part of the Sarnia Pride and Transgender Association, took a similar stance when contacted Wednesday.

“There is obviously still a significant amount of discrimination and when you hear it from people in power like the OPP. … You can see how that trickles down,” Palychuk said.

“But these views are in the minority.”

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has called the tampon comment “reprehensible.”

In his lone public comments so far, Doupe told The Sarnia Observer the tampon remark on a news organization’s public Facebook page was “no one’s business.”

lpin@postmedia.com

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