The interim leader of the New Brunswick NDP is condemning election-night comments by one of the party's candidates and says he is looking at "disciplinary action."
Mackenzie Thomason apologized for what he called "wholly unnecessary and profane remarks" by Courtney Pyrke aimed at Saint John-Rothesay Liberal MP Wayne Long and Premier Blaine Higgs.
At 9:57 on election night, Pyrke, the NDP candidate in Saint John Harbour, tweeted a photo of a bottle of wine next to a paper cup with the words "F--- Blaine Higgs."
Later that night Pyrke tweeted a crude anatomical pun about Long's name while comparing him to an NDP MP who represented the federal riding where they used to live in Hamilton, Ont.
In a press release, Thomason condemned the "outbursts" and said they didn't reflect NDP values and were made without his consent.
"We have our differences, we have our passions, but when you attack personally, and use comments such as that on a personal level, that's something that contravenes the political process, contravenes good will and it's not promoting dialogue," he said in an interview.
Thomason said such behaviour would not be tolerated and the party was "exploring disciplinary action for these and other remarks," but he said he wasn't aware of the details of the NDP's internal process, which he said would be confidential.
Candidate at odds with party officials
Pyrke, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they and them, said the criticism was "fair" but the party had not contacted them to discuss the tweets before issuing the press release. They learned of the statement from CBC News.
Pyrke also said the party was upset about Pyrke's questioning of how party officials were controlling Thomason's schedule and how they were "running the show", instead of the interim leader himself.
"I had basically been shut down and told I didn't understand," Pyrke said.
"Every time I asked these types of questions, they treated it as if I was attacking them, and that I wasn't being understanding, and that I was new so I don't get it."
Thomason said a "very professional" team of people came forward to help the NDP campaign and "it was made very clear to the candidates that this was what was going on, and it seemed to not sit well with certain candidates.
"Differences arise and differences are okay. We have to have those conversations, but they have to be respectful."
Pyrke would not commit to staying involved with the NDP. "This is not the party that I support from my home town in Hamilton."
Long surprised by apology
Long said he was surprised by Thomason's apology "but I was happy to see it. I don't think personal attacks of that nature have a place in politics."
On Monday, Pyrke finished fourth in Saint John Harbour, a one-time NDP bastion, with 5.9 per cent of the vote.
That's the lowest total for the NDP in the riding since it was created before the 1995 election.
However, that result far exceeded the NDP's province-wide 1.6 per cent share of the popular vote and the 1.3 per cent Thomason received in Fredericton North.