Toronto NDP candidate resigns after discovery of controversial social media posts

TORONTO — A Toronto New Democratic Party candidate has resigned after controversial social media posts were unearthed in which she links a lack of vaccines in Canada to Israel.

On Wednesday, the party confirmed that Sidney Coles, who was running in the Toronto-St. Paul’s riding, as well as Dan Osborne, a candidate running in Nova Scotia, have “ended their campaigns.”

“They have agreed to educate themselves further about antisemitism,” spokesperson George Soule told CTV News.

“New Democrats stand united against discrimination of all kinds. We are committed to taking lasting and meaningful steps toward ending prejudice and hatred in all its forms.”

Screenshots of Tweets posted by Coles earlier in the year started to resurface over the weekend. In the social media posts, Coles appears to indicate that Israel was responsible for alleged missing COVID-19 vaccine doses in the United States.

The tweets were shared by Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, among others.

The organization demanded a “retraction and apology” for the remarks.

Earlier this week, Coles took to Twitter to apologize for her social media posts, saying that she posted “unsubstantiated theories about vaccine supply linked to Israel.”

“These comments weren’t based on evidence. I recognize this frame is a common anti-Semitic trope, though that was never my intent,” she said on Sept. 13.

“I should not have made this link and apologize and retract those statements. I will continue to stand firmly against anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination in all its forms.”

Coles’ Twitter page has since been deactivated and her profile on the NDP website is no longer available.

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies acknowledged the apology, but said that the comments remain concerning given rise of anti-Semitism globally and “escalating incidences of Jew hate in her Toronto-St. Paul’s riding.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said that those comments have “no place” in the party.

“We’re seeing a scary rise in anti-Semitism,” he said. “I want folks to know that our values are values of inclusivity, making sure everyone feels welcome and making sure everyone feels like they belong.”

“Those messages were completely unacceptable and the right decision was made.”

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