The CEO of Ottawa e-commerce company Shopify, Tobias Lütke, defended his company’s support of U.S.-based conservative news site Breitbart in an open letter on Wednesday.
The company had faced backlash in recent days for hosting Breitbart’s online store, which critics said was condoning the so-called “alt-right” website.
Lütke said that he does not endorse Breitbart, but he believes refusing to do business with them would be an affront to free expression.
“Commerce is a powerful, underestimated form of expression,” he wrote. ”We use it to cast a vote with every product we buy. It’s a direct expression of democracy. This is why our mission at Shopify is to protect that form of expression and make it better for everyone, not just for those we agree with.”
The “alt-right,” which is championed by Breitbart, is a conservative movement in the U.S. that combines elements of racism, white nationalism and populism.