September 21st, 2021

Two federal NDP candidates resign after antisemitic social media posts spark backlash

By The Canadian Press on September 15, 2021.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh greets supporters during a campaign stop in Kitchener, Ont., Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. Two NDP candidates have resigned after comments on social media caused backlash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says the antisemitic comments by two of his party’s candidates who resigned were “completely wrong.”

The party confirmed Wednesday that Dan Osborne, the candidate for the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland-Colchester, and Sidney Coles, the candidate for Toronto-St. Paul’s, ended their campaigns and “agreed to educate themselves further about antisemitism.”

Speaking to reporters Wednesday in Essex, Ont., Singh said antisemitism has no place in his party.

“These candidates made the right decision,” he said. “They made the decision, and I support them in that decision.”

“In addition, they’re talking about the importance of getting training. Antisemitism is real. We’re seeing a scary rise in antisemitism, and we are unequivocally opposed, and we’ll confront it.”

Coles, who has since deleted her Twitter account, was reported to have posted misinformation about Israel being linked to missing COVID-19 vaccines.

Singh condemned those posts during a campaign stop on Tuesday but did not demand her resignation.

“The candidate offered a complete and unequivocal apology,” Singh said Tuesday. “That apology was accepted recently by (Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs). That was the right thing to do.”

“Those comments were wrong and I’m encouraged to see a clear apology and a complete withdrawal of those comments.”

Osborne was reported to have Tweeted to Oprah in 2019 asking if Auschwitz was a real place, referring to the Nazi-run concentration camp in Poland during the Second World War. He responded to backlash about the post on Twitter over the weekend, saying he had Tweeted it when he was a teenager.

“I want to offer an apology,” Osborne Tweeted Sunday. “The role of Auschwitz and the history of the Holocaust is one we should never forget.”

“Antisemitism should be confronted and stopped. I can’t recall posting that, I was 16 then and can honestly say I did not mean to cause any harm.”

When asked Tuesday whether candidates should resign over antisemitic remarks, Singh said there is no place in his party for racism or prejudice.

“We want to make sure people know that when you vote for New Democrats you are going to get a leader who believes in this and I expect every one of my candidates to believe in this as well.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2021.

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