Two candidates for the New Democratic Party in next Monday’s federal election have resigned after their social media posts said Israel was to blame for missing COVID vaccines and another that questioned the existence of Auschwitz.
On Sept. 15, the NDP confirmed that Sidney Coles, the candidate for Toronto-St. Paul’s riding, and Dan Osborne, the NDP hopeful in the Nova Scotia riding of Cumberland-Colchester, ended their campaigns.
The CBC reported that they resigned by choice, but the party supports their decisions.
A party spokesperson said the two “agreed to educate themselves further about antisemitism.”
“New Democrats stand united against discrimination of all kinds. We are committed to taking lasting and meaningful steps toward ending prejudice and hatred in all its forms,” spokesperson George Soule told reporters.
On several occasions, Coles tweeted that Israel was linked to missing COVID vaccines. She has since deleted her Twitter account.
She later apologized for posting “unsubstantiated theories about vaccine supply linked to Israel,” and said it was never her intent to indulge a “common antisemitic trope,” reported the Toronto Star.
Osborne is accused of tweeting at TV personality Oprah Winfrey in 2019 asking, “was Auschwitz a real place?”
He later said he had tweeted the message when he was a teenager but had no memory of it.
Osborne apologized earlier this week.
“I want to offer an apology. The role of Auschwitz and the history of the Holocaust is one we should never forget. Antisemitism should be confronted and stopped,” he said. “I can’t recall posting that. I was 16 then and can honestly say I did not mean to cause any harm.”
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh condemned Coles’s posts during a campaign stop on Sept. 14 but he did not demand her resignation.
“The candidate offered a complete and unequivocal apology. That apology was accepted recently by (the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs). That was the right thing to do,” Canadian Press quoted Singh as saying.
“Those comments were wrong and I’m encouraged to see a clear apology and a complete withdrawal of those comments.”
Singh later called both posts “unacceptable.”
“I want to be very clear: their comments were completely wrong and have no place in our party,” he said during a campaign stop in Essex, Ont., on Sept. 15.
“Those messages were completely unacceptable and the right decision was made.”