Two federal NDP candidates resign after antisemitic social media posts spark backlash
Sidney Coles and Dan Osborne are seen in these undated images taken from social media.
Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, September 15, 2021 1:34PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 15, 2021 6:17PM EDT
ESSEX, ONT. -- Jagmeet Singh says antisemitic comments by two of his party's candidates who resigned were "completely wrong" as the NDP leader made a push to win sought-after Ontario ridings.
"Antisemitism is real," Singh said during a campaign stop in Essex, Ont.
"We're seeing a scary rise in antisemitism, and we are unequivocally opposed, and we'll confront it."
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."
Singh said antisemitism has no place in his party and the candidates made the right decision to resign.
"In addition, they're talking about the importance of getting training," Singh said.
Coles, who has since deleted her Twitter account, was reported to have posted misinformation about Israel being linked to missing COVID-19 vaccines.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, a non-profit human rights organization, shared images purportedly from Coles' account over the weekend. Coles later apologized on social media.
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."
Jaime Kirzner-Roberts, director of policy at Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, said in a news release that shehad been in contact with the New Democrats. Shewas relieved the candidates stepped down.
"We thank NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh for his leadership in ensuring this outcome," Kirzner-Roberts said.
"Amid rising Jew-hatred in this country, all political parties and leaders must send a message, loud and clear, that antisemitism will not be tolerated in any shape or form."
A handful of candidates from other parties have also dropped out during the election.
Last week the Conservative Party dropped Lisa Robinson, the candidate for the Beaches-East York riding in Toronto, after Islamophobic social media posts surfaced. Robinson has claimed the account is fake and she has previously reported it to police.
Liberal Raj Saini resigned earlier in the campaign after facing allegations that he harassed a female staff member, claims he firmly denies.
Singh condemned Coles' posts during a campaign stop on Tuesday, but did not demand she step down. At that time, he said the candidate's "unequivocal apology" was the right thing to do.
Singh didn't say Wednesday why he didn't push for a resignation sooner, but reiterated that it was the right decision for the candidates.
The New Democrats are filling their schedule for the final push before the election.
Singh was greeted by hundreds of people cheering and holding signs during stops in London West and Niagara Centre -- both of which went Liberal in the last election. He told supporters to vote with their conscience.
The NDP leader has continuedto dismiss that people should follow the idea of voting strategically and kept his sights set on Justin Trudeau during the final push.
"There is a cost to voting for the Liberals," he said.
Singh will also be taking his message to the Ontario ridings of Hamilton and Brampton East.
He will end the busy day with a livestream on Twitch, an online gaming site. Singh, who has embraced social media trends and videos, said it's a way to connect with potential voters.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2021.