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Saturday, September 18, 2021

N.S. Conservative candidate apologizes for sharing racially insensitive Facebook posts

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OTTAWA — A Conservative candidate in Nova Scotia has apologized for sharing social media posts about Muslims and immigrants but will continue to run for the party in a riding once held by former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

“In the past I have shared social media posts without thinking about how these posts might hurt or offend others,” Central Nova candidate Steven Cotter said in a statement Saturday forwarded to CTV News by the party.

“I have deleted these posts and apologize unreservedly to those I have offended.”

On Facebook, Cotter reposted messages about sharia law, an Islamic legal tradition, expressed support for Canada banning the burqa worn by some Muslim women, and questioned funding for immigrants at the expense of military veterans.

Cotter is a town councillor, school bus driver and volunteer firefighter, according to his campaign’s Facebook page.

One of the stories re-posted by Cotter’s now-deactivated Facebook account described a Muslim passenger who asked his London black cab driver to turn off the radio because the music offended his faith. The driver is described as telling the passenger to get out and ride a camel instead.

Cotter added the comment, “This is a damn good question,” to a repost of a message questioning why British, Canadian, U.S. and U.K. military veterans receive reduced pensions, while immigrants “who have done nothing for our countries” receive housing, medical care and other benefits.

He also commented “a very big yes” to a post showing a picture of women wearing burqas with the caption “France and the Netherlands ban the burqa on security grounds. Repost if you think Canada should do the same!”

He also re-posted a Facebook message that falsely claimed former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard told Muslims who wanted to live under Islamic sharia law to leave the country.

Liberal Sean Fraser held Central Nova when parliament was dissolved and is running for re-election.

Mulroney won the riding in a 1993 by-election. Cotter’s campaign Facebook page includes an endorsement from the riding’s former MP, Peter MacKay.

On Friday, a Liberal candidate in Alberta apologized for a Twitter message she posted in June in response to reports of dissension within the Green Party.

Irene Walker, running in Sturgeon River–Parkland, tweeted about leader Annamie Paul, who is Black and Jewish: “Personally, I think she has done a great disservice to women, people who are not white and Jews.”

In a statement, Walker said, “I made inappropriate comments online that I shouldn’t have made and I regret.” She remains the Liberal candidate in the riding.

The Liberals announced Saturday that Ontario MP Raj Saini would no longer be their candidate in Kitchener Centre, following a CBC report on allegations of sexual misconduct that he denied.

Elections Canada deadline for candidates to withdraw has passed, so Saini’s name will remain on the ballot and cannot be replaced by another candidate.   

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