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Conservatives dump Toronto candidate after Islamophobic tweets resurface

Last Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 2:14 pm EDT

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole gets off his bus at a campaign announcement in Whitby, Ont., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

The Conservative Party has cut ties with a candidate running in a Toronto riding after Islamophobic comments resurfaced from a series of tweets made in 2017.

Nate Erskine-Smith, the Liberal incumbent in Beaches–East York, posted a series of screen shots of tweets alleged to have come from an account belonging ‘Ward 1 city councillor candidate’ who he claims is Lisa Robinson, the Conservative candidate running to unseat him in the riding. One of the tweets reads, “Muslims go home if our Canadian heritage offends you so much!!!!”

“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 tweeted.

Robinson posted a response on her Facebook page, calling the tweet shared by Erskine-Smith “false and defamatory,” adding she was prepared to launch legal action against him if he did not remove the social media post.

“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,” she wrote.

Robinson said she was suspending her campaign to consider her legal options and “defend myself against these defamatory comments.”

The Conservative party says they are “disavowing her as a candidate.”

Speaking at a campaign stop in Whitby, Ont., on Saturday, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole didn’t address Robinson by name, stressing again that he was committed to running a positive campaign.

“I want people on my team that share that exact same approach and that’s how we approach all issues related to the campaign. We’re here to bring the country together,” said O’Toole. “All candidates – like everyone in my caucus – will commit to the five pillars of Canada’s recovery plan and a positive campaign because we’re tired of six years of Mr. Trudeau and the division and letting people down. We have to step up for the country and that’s my expectations for all our candidates.”

The party did not take any action against Central Nova Conservative candidate Steven Cotter, who apologized in a Facebook post for sharing what he called “Islamophobic and anti-immigrant tropes” without thinking.