CTV News | Federal Election 2019
Ousted Green candidate apologizes after Islamophobic Facebook post emerges
Green Party leader Elizabeth May talks to her supporters before announcing the official launch of the Green Party of Canada election campaign as she's joined by green candidates during a press conference at the Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort in Victoria, B.C., on Sept. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
TORONTO – A federal Green Party candidate from Ontario has apologized after a Facebook post suggesting he would send a pig carcass to Muslims forced his resignation from the party.
Erik Schomann, a candidate in the riding of Simcoe North, resigned from the Green Party on Thursday after the post emerged. In a phone interview with CTVNews.ca, he apologized for the post and said he accepted the party’s decision to release him, but added that the comments do not reflect his thoughts on Islam or the Muslim community.
“I’m devastated,” he said. “What was said was stupid and I regret it.”
“I have to accept responsibility for my actions.”
Schomann said he spent several years living in Muslim communities overseas -- primarily in Nigeria -- and has "no gripe with Islam, certainly.”
The Green Party said in a statement that it “has zero tolerance for sexism, Islamophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia or hate speech of any kind.”
The post in question features an image of three men standing in front of a barbeque, with the caption “Schomanner roasting a pig (we sent the left-overs to Denmark in support of the protesters of the Muhammed comic)”
The post is in reference to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s decision to publish 12 images of the prophet Muhammed in September 2005. The depictions were largely condemned by Muslim groups in Denmark and led to protests around the world.
In a Twitter thread, the National Council of Canadian Muslims called on Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to drop Schomann and suggested any act of sending a pig carcass to Muslims is an act of intimidation from the alt-right.
“While we greatly cherish the free speech rights of all Canadians, when you start promising to mail pieces of a pig carcass, you can no longer stand with the integrity and moral commitment that all those who wish to be elected must have,” the council said in a statement.
Schomann said he’s been “attacked rather brutally on social media” in the hours after news of the post broke, with people calling him “disgusting” and an “embarrassment” online.
He believes the timing of the post’s emergence suggests someone had been sifting through social media to find it ahead of the election.
“Someone had to be searching through this,” he said. “There’s definitely an element of this that’s calculated.”
The Simcoe North Federal Green Party Riding Association released a statement Wednesday saying it was “devastated” to lose Schomann as a candidate.
“We … feel that the consequences for this one post are out of proportion to the offense and are detrimental to our democracy,” the statement read.
“How will parties find candidates willing to subject themselves to the possibility of public humiliation?”
The riding association said it fully supported Schomann “in his quest to redeem his personal and professional reputation” and would find a replacement candidate in the near future.
On Wednesday, two NDP candidates resigned from their party; one following allegations of domestic abuse and the other due to comments on social media sent to pro-pipeline protestors.
Olivier Mathieu, the NDP candidate for the Montreal-area riding of LaSalle-Emard-Verdun, denies any wrongdoing in the domestic abuse allegations against him, while Dock Currie, a candidate in the southern B.C. riding of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, said the social media comments he made two years ago do not reflect who he is today.
The Conservatives also lost a candidate, with a party spokesperson saying they had found "discriminatory" social media posts from Cameron Ogilvie, who was running in Winnipeg North.