Pembroke -- Although his name appeared on the ballot in Monday’s federal election, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Green Party candidate Mike Lariviere withdrew his candidacy following inappropriate comments at an all-candidate’s debate last week in Pembroke.
Mr. Lariviere, a first time federal candidate, compared the issuing of vaccine passports to the forced tattooing of Jewish citizens during the Holocaust. He was answering a question about efforts to encourage people to get a COVID-19 vaccine by when he made the comparison to Nazism.
"I've been vaccinated, but I don't want to have to walk around with a passport ... the way I look at it is the Gestapo and the German military during the Second World War wanted people to be tattooed," he said.
He continued by stating Canada’s parliamentary system is beginning to look more and more like a country run by a dictorial style and the introduction of a vaccine passport would only push Canada closer to becoming an autocratic state.
The Green Party's Riding Association issued a media release a few days after the debate when several inquiries and complaints were made regarding his statements.
"It was recently brought to our attention that Green Party candidate Michael Lariviere made unacceptable comments at an all candidates’ debate last week,” the release stated. “We deeply regret Mr. Lariviere’s offensive statements and apologize sincerely for the distress his words have caused. Mr. Lariviere has now withdrawn his candidacy."
Some individuals addressed the issue on the Green Party's website. A spokesperson for the RNP Green Party responded by stating, "LaRiviere made offensive and untrue comments during the campaign that bordered on hate speech. He has been removed as the Green Party candidate. The RNP Green Party apologizes for any distress his words may have caused. Such language and actions will not be tolerated in the Green Party of Canada."
Although he officially withdrew from the race, all ballots (including advance and mail-in ballots) counted in his favour will be considered valid.
Jodie Primeau, the NDP candidate, said the comments were inappropriate and the incident showed the need for parties and leaders to carefully vet candidates.
“A leader’s remarks and actions are held to a higher standard, and rightly so,” she said. “Leaders must be prepared, researched and sensitive -- particularly when dealing with these important issues. The Green Party was faced with the same decision the Conservatives had to make earlier in this campaign. The Green Party’s decision to withdraw their candidate was the correct one.”
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader