Morgan Wheeldon, a candidate in the Nova Scotia riding of Kings-Hants for the left-wing NDP party, dropped out of the federal election race after the surfacing of controversial comments he made about Israel, The Canadian Jewish News reported last week.
The parliamentary election in Canada is set for October 19.
The rival Conservative Party published comments Wheeldon made in an August 2014 Facebook post in the context of a discussion about British MP George Galloway who had been physically attacked in London for alleged anti-Israel views.
“One could argue that Israel’s intention was always to ethnically cleanse the region – there are direct quotations proving this to be the case. Guess we just swept that under the rug. A minority of Palestinians are bombing buses in response to what appears to be a calculated effort to commit a war crime,” Wheeldon wrote.
The NDP’s senior campaign adviser Brad Lavigne told the CJN
that the party's "position on the conflict in the Middle East is clear, as [leader] Tom Mulcair expressed clearly in debate. Mr. Wheeldon’s comments are not in line with that policy, and he is no longer our candidate. We were made aware of some information that had not previously been disclosed. When we approached Mr. Wheeldon with this information, he submitted his resignation.”
In a televised debate earlier this month between the leading candidates for prime minister, Thomas Mulclair, leader of the NDP party, said his party wanted "a safe state for Palestinians, and a safe state for Israelis."
The former candidate Wheeldon told the CJN
that his statement on Israel“referred to how information sources affect framing of the conflict. I also attacked terrorism and said neither side was solely at fault, but pointed out the alternate perspective. I said ‘one could argue…’ I’ve been called an anti-Semite, and it’s pretty upsetting for me and my family.”
report quoted Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, who said that it was appropriate for Wheeldon to offer his resignation following his “libelous smears against the Jewish state.”
“Israel is a democracy where all its citizens enjoy rights and freedoms unimaginable anywhere else in the Middle East. Mr. Wheeldon should use some of his newfound free time to advocate against actual ethnic cleansing taking place on a daily basis in the terrorist Islamic State, which continues to massacre Christians, Yazidis, gays and other minorities,” Mostyn was quoted as saying.
Hans Marotte, the NDP candidate in Quebec’s Saint-Jean riding and David McLaren, running in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, both NDP candidates for federal office, have also come under fire for comments made about Israel, the Jewish newspaper reported.
“When a Palestinian comes to ask me to sign his declaration of support for the Intifada, and tells me how happy he is to have my name on his list, I see how important it is that we not close in on ourselves,” Marotte wrote in 1990.
McLaren is quoted as saying that it isn’t principled to take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because it is like picking a side in “a telephone booth packed with dynamite.” The Canadian election
Earlier this month Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, known as a staunch supporter of Israel, called the October parliamentary election, kicking off a marathon 11-week campaign likely to focus on a stubbornly sluggish economy and his decade in power.
Polls indicate Harper's right-of-center Conservative Party, which has been in office since 2006, could well lose its majority in the House of Commons.
That would leave him at the mercy of the two main center-left opposition parties, which could unite to bring him down. Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than 18 months.
Harper, 56, says only he can be trusted to manage an economy struggling to cope with the after-effects of a global economic slowdown and a plunge in the price of oil, a major Canadian export. Opposition parties favored "disastrous" policies such as higher spending and more debt, he said.
Most recent polls show the Conservatives slightly trailing the left-leaning New Democrats (NDP), who have never governed Canada. The Liberals of Justin Trudeau trail in third.
The NDP said the early call was a cynical ploy that would do nothing for the economy. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said Harper had presided over the worst economic growth record of any prime minister since 1960.
"Clearly, Mr. Harper, your plan isn't working ... we will kick-start the economy and get Canadians back to work," he said.
The NDP and the Liberals say Canada needs a change from Harper, who has cut taxes, increased military spending, toughened criminal laws and streamlined regulations governing the energy industry.
Ipsos Public Affairs pollster John Wright said the race was "very competitive" and chances of the Conservatives winning any kind of government were 50 percent, down from 88 percent last year.