The leader of New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservatives has reviewed one of his candidates after learning he had reposted a Facebook message containing transphobic language.
Blaine Higgs said Monday he was disturbed by the reposting of a transphobic meme by Roland Michaud, the party’s candidate in Victoria-La Vallee, that suggested physical violence against trangendered women when they use washrooms.
Higgs said during a news conference in Saint John late in the afternoon that the post was missed during the vetting of Michaud’s candidacy and says he only became aware of it early on Labour Day.
The leader said he was particularly disturbed by the violence described in the post, adding that inciting aggression is unacceptable for a political candidate.
Michaud wasn’t immediately available for comment, after The Canadian Press sent requests via his social media account.
Higgs said with the revelation of the December 2018 post coming just a week before the Sept. 14 election, Michaud’s name will remain on the ballot and his party will be unable to provide a fresh candidate.
Michaud went to Facebook Monday afternoon to announce he is still running.
“I’m a blue-collar ordinary guy just like you and ordinary people make mistakes. I’ve admitted to that and I’ve apologized,” Michaud said in a Facebook video.
“Give me a chance to prove it won’t happen again,” he said.
The party is asking Michaud to remove its signs and said it will not accept Michaud into caucus should he be elected.
Michaud is running in the Liberal-held riding in northwest New Brunswick, which includes a large francophone population.
At dissolution, the Progressive Conservatives and Liberals each had 20 seats in the legislature, while the Greens and the People’s Alliance each had three. There are two vacant seats and one Independent.
Higgs said that it wasn’t a difficult decision to drop Michaud, even as he seeks to win additional seats in hope of forming a majority government.
“It’s a message we have to send across the province. We have higher standards we must uphold and follow,” he said.
The Tory leader said he will raise questions about his party’s vetting process for candidates, agreeing with a reporter that finding the offensive post wasn’t particularly difficult.
“I will ask the questions of the vetting process … There is a process that needs to be followed and followed diligently,” he said.
Alice McKim, a candidate for the Liberal Party who is a transgender woman, said the comment by Tory candidate was inciting violence and were contrary to the province’s Human Rights Act.
“The degradation of this type increases the likelihood of the degraded to become victims crime and decreases the inhibition of others to harm us,” she said in Saint John.
“Let the candidate (Michaud) go. Let’s move on.”
(The Canadian Press)
– With files from Karla Renic