Trudeau won't remove N.S. Liberal candidate for offensive social-media posts
Published Monday, October 7, 2019 10:39AM ADT Last Updated Monday, October 7, 2019 1:00PM ADT
PLAINFIELD, Ont. -- Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is calling comments made by a Liberal candidate in Nova Scotia in old social-media posts unacceptable, but he is not removing the candidate from the Liberal roster.
Jaime Battiste, who is running for the Liberals in the riding of Sydney-Victoria, issued an apology earlier this week after the Toronto Sun shared past racist and sexist remarks he had made on social media.
Battiste told the newspaper the posts were "crude jokes" he made at a different time in his life, but that he now realizes they were offensive.
"We recognize Mr. Jamie Battiste took responsibility for his actions and has apologized," Trudeau told reporters Sunday during a campaign event.
Trudeau called the language in the posts "unacceptable," but added that he is pleased Battiste apologized.
The Conservatives have called on Trudeau to fire Battiste in a post on the party's website, calling the candidate's past actions "disgusting and inexcusable" and zeroing in especially on the sexist comments, including one that joked that a woman's role is to clean, cook and fold laundry.
"Despite these sexist comments, Battiste is allowed to run as a Liberal candidate for Justin Trudeau," said Lisa Raitt, Conservative candidate for Milton.
"Justin Trudeau is a fake feminist."
Earlier this week, the Conservative party ousted one of its candidates in British Columbia, Heather Leung in Burnaby-North Seymour, following media reports about disparaging comments she had made about the LGBTQ community.
When asked Sunday about whether he feels limited in his ability to censure candidates for past racist behaviours after photos and a video emerged in the first week of the campaign showing the Liberal leader wearing brownface or blackface makeup -- Trudeau sidestepped the question.
He merely repeated that Battiste has taken responsibility for his behaviour and apologized.
The stop in Plainfield, Ont. was Trudeau's only campaign event of the day Sunday, after the Liberal leader's tour's had a rare down day on Saturday.
Trudeau used the visit as an opportunity to highlight a previous campaign commitment to plant use revenues from the Trans Mountain pipeline to plant two billion trees over the next decade to combat climate change.
He took a short walk in a wooded area within the Frink Conservation Area with his two sons, Xavier and Hadrien, and met with several local young families who were all waiting to plant trees with the Liberal leader and the area's Liberal candidate, Mike Bossio.
Bossio won the riding in 2015 by a narrow margin of just 373 votes, and welcomed the visit from Trudeau as a boost for his efforts at getting re-elected.
As the campaign enters the final two-week stretch with polls suggesting the Liberals and Conservatives continue to be neck-and-neck in voter support, the Liberal leader's picturesque visit to rural Ontario was used not only a climate change photo-op, but also as backdrop to highlight the Liberal party's efforts to court rural voters.
Trudeau pointed to his decision to appoint a cabinet minister solely focused on rural economic development and to trade deals his government signed to help farmers get access to new markets.
"We have consistently stood up for rural Canadians and we will continue," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2019.