TORONTO — The Ontario Liberals dropped a third candidate in as many days Thursday after the NDP unearthed Facebook comments he allegedly made that used a slur for gay people.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, who was not yet aware of the Facebook posts when he made an announcement Thursday morning on mental health, said his party would not tolerate such comments.
“In this moment in particular, when confronted with or given information about behaviours of candidates, attitudes of candidates, beliefs of candidates that are completely unacceptable — completely unacceptable — I think the test of leadership is to move decisively and to leave no wiggle room and to be unequivocal,” he said.
Within the hour, a party spokeswoman confirmed that Alec Mazurek had been officially terminated as a candidate for the Liberals in Chatham-Kent-Leamington.
In a statement posted to Facebook on Thursday, Mazurek said the comments were “unacceptable then and unacceptable now” adding that they are “not reflective of the values that I hold and champion today.”
“I apologize unequivocally for any harms that they have caused and I will continue to learn from previous mistakes,” he wrote.
Mazurek said the comments were made nearly a decade ago, when he was 15-years-old.
“This is not an excuse to minimize the reason that this is an issue, but I would also like to make clear that we’re holding a child to the same standards as the adult writing this statement today,” he said.
Maurek thanked those who have supported him and said he wishes the party and candidates “the best moving forward.”
“And I hope I can earn back the community’s trust,” he wrote.
The Facebook comments shared by the NDP appear to have been posted eight years ago, and also include a derogatory remark about women.
Mazurek’s ousting came a day after the party dropped a candidate for Parry Sound-Muskoka after media reports described a book he self-published that details scientifically baseless views on homosexuality.
The day before that, the Liberals dropped their candidate in Sault Ste. Marie following a media report that the teen candidate participated in online discussions in which people joked about “dying of AIDS,” though he told local media he did not make those comments.
The deadline for candidate nominations was 2 p.m. Thursday, but Del Duca said he would still try to run with a full ticket.
The party said it would have an update on its roster of candidates soon.
Del Duca didn’t comment on how the Liberals vetted their candidates, but said he sees it as an ongoing effort.
“From my perspective, the vetting process never stops,” he said.
“We’re constantly making sure that we are in touch with our candidates, that we’re aware to the best of our ability of what’s taking place and what’s going on with it.”
-with files from Global News