Nova Scotia Liberal candidate removed for Down syndrome tweet
A Nova Scotia Liberal Party candidate has been removed from the campaign after Global News asked the party about a tweet about Down syndrome he posted nearly four years ago.
The tweet by former Pictou East candidate Matt MacKnight reads: “Phone rings: ‘what time does the other source [sic] store close at today?’ seriously a**hole? Call them not me! #downsydrome [sic] #stupidcustomers.”
It was posted on May 28, 2013 on the account which was also used for MacKnight’s campaign.
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It appears he was describing an incident that happened at an electronics store he, according to his tweets and LinkedIn profile, worked at at the time.
The statement from the party announcing his departure reads: “The comments made previously by Mr. MacKnight are not in any way acceptable and run contrary to the values of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, our Leader Stephen McNeil and indeed all Nova Scotians. After a thorough review of Mr. McKnight’s [sic] comments, it’s clear he can no longer stand as a candidate for the Liberal campaign.”
A spokesperson said there would not be any interview opportunities with the party regarding the issue on Monday.
Will Brewer, who has Down syndrome and is a board member of the Halifax Nova Scotia Down Syndrome Society, said in a phone call that the tweet is offensive.
“I find that ridiculous,” he said, adding that MacKnight should “maybe apologize.”
Martha Walls, another board member, said that, as a parent of a child with Down syndrome, she is “kind of accustomed to confronting this sort of ignorance.”
“I find it very disheartening to see these sorts of comments, particularly parlayed in kind of a public sort of way,” she added.
MacKnight’s account also includes tweets with the word “retarded” used in a derogatory manner.
In the hours since the announcement, several of his tweets were deleted, including the aforementioned “#stupidcustomers” tweet. His account was later set to protected before being shut down.
MacKnight’s Facebook page seems to have been removed. His eponymous website, now sans any content about him, shows a party slogan with a form to sign up for an email notification service of some sort.
There is also a message that reads: “We’ll be right back!”
READ MORE: Nova Scotia Election: Pictou East candidates
Walls said she hopes MacKnight turns the situation into a learning opportunity for him to consider and explore the issues people with Down syndrome face.
“I think that it’s important that people recognize that words matter a great deal,” she added.
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