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O’Toole ousts one CPC candidate over Islamophobic tweets but keeps other on

Click to play video: 'Canada election: O’Toole says he’s running a ‘positive campaign’ following ousting of Toronto Conservative candidate for Islamophobic tweets'
Canada election: O’Toole says he’s running a ‘positive campaign’ following ousting of Toronto Conservative candidate for Islamophobic tweets
WATCH: Canada election: O’Toole says he’s running a ‘positive campaign’ following ousting of Toronto Conservative candidate for Islamophobic tweets – Sep 11, 2021

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole on Saturday defended his party’s decision to eject a female candidate linked to years-old Islamophobic tweets. The party however, has taken no action against another Conservative candidate who made similar comments online earlier this month.

Asked by a reporter about his decision to dump Beaches-East York candidate Lisa Robinson while allowing Steven Cotter, who is running in Central Nova, to remain part of the party, O’Toole said “we’re running a positive campaign based on bringing the country together and getting the country back on its feet from an economic and health point of view.”

“I want people on my team that share that exact same approach.”

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Global News has reached out to the Conservative Party for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

Robinson said she was suspending her campaign on Friday after Liberal MP Nate Erskine-Smith, who is seeking re-election in Beaches-East York, posted screenshots of several Islamophobic tweets that appeared to be sent from Robinson’s account.

“Our community has faced down hate too many times already, and it’s unacceptable that the Conservative Party is giving a platform to someone with these views,” Erskine-Smith’s tweet read.

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Robinson denied in a Facebook post on Friday that the account, titled “Ward 1 city councillor, candidate,” was hers. She claims the photos shared by the Liberal MP are “false and defamatory,” and said she has asked him to take down his post or face “legal consequences.”

“The information contained in Mr. Erskine-Smith’s social media post was generated by a fake social media account which I reported to police in 2018. I have also signed an attestation confirming these facts,” said Robinson, adding that she was suspending her campaign to consider her legal options.

“Racism and Islamophobia have no place in the Conservative Party of Canada or my campaign.”

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Since her disavowment from the party, Robinson has deleted her Twitter account and her website has been suspended. Global News has reached out to Robinson for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

Earlier this month, Cotter deleted several posts online in which he asked Canadians to support a burqa ban and questioned whether newcomers to Canada should receive funding at what he claimed was the expense of military veterans.

He apologized in a Facebook message on Sept. 5, and promised to reflect on his actions and reach out to his local mosque.

“In the past I have shared social media posts without thinking about how these posts might hurt or offend others. I have deleted these posts and apologize unreservedly,” Cotter said, adding that Islamophobia has “no place” in Nova Scotia.

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“I recognize that what I was posted (sic) was not simply hurtful — it was animated with Islamophobic and anti-immigrant tropes.”

But the Liberal Party said O’Toole’s decision to allow Cotter to remain with the party suggests a “troubling trend” from the Conservative leader when it comes to Islamophobia.

“While this candidate is no longer with the Conservatives, Erin O’Toole continues to stand by his candidate in Nova Scotia who has made racist comments. At the very least, he should remove his candidate in Central Nova,” Alex Wellstead, spokesperson for the Liberals, said in an emailed statement to Global News.

“Erin O’Toole wouldn’t even vote to condemn Islamophobia when given the opportunity, so why should Canadians trust him now?”

Global News has reached out to Cotter’s office and NDP Party for comment, but did not immediately hear back.

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— With files from the Canadian Press

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