“I submitted my resignation from this team not because I did anything wrong, but because I did not want to become a distraction in the debate about the important issues facing our province,” Daryl Cooper said in a statement sent to Global News.
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Cooper says he was preparing himself for a job in politics by seeking out as many diverse opinions as he could find.
“I, along with many millions of others around the world, browsed social media pages. I read many news pieces, articles and blogs, I listened to lots of opinions and even shared some of those thoughts and ideas on social media platforms,” Cooper said.
He said reading a post or hitting like on a tweet does not signify his support or agreement with every word and position.
“Let me be clear,” Cooper said. “I am not a member of internet groups such as QAnon. I do not subscribe to or support conspiracy theories such as they advance.”
Saskatchewan Party leader Scott Moe called Cooper’s activity on social media concerning during a campaign event in Prince Albert on Saturday. By Sunday morning, Cooper was replaced by Chris Guérette as the party’s Saskatoon Eastview candidate.
While candidates in the United States are bringing QAnon conspiracy theories on the campaign trail, the Saskatchewan Party says the same shouldn’t be done in the province.
“It doesn’t have any place in the Saskatchewan Party. I would condemn the views of this and we should not be sharing or promoting these views in the province,” Moe said.
Moe added all candidates within the party have been refreshed in recent days on what constitutes appropriate behaviour.
Cooper had spent the past 19 months campaigning in the constituency of Saskatoon Eastview prior to his resignation.
Moving forward, he’s concerned constituents are being denied a candidate the local membership elected.
“We live in an age where guilt by association, immediate judgments, and condemnations have become far too common. Reputations are sullied not by actual actions or beliefs but by innuendo and digital lynching,” Cooper said. “This makes reasoned political debate about the future of our country and province very difficult.”