Windsor West Green party candidate acknowledges past transgressions in social media posts

Green party Windsor West candidate Quinn Hunt published tweets Thursday acknowledging he has "said and done racist, sexist and homophobic things," in the past. 

Hunt apologized for his past actions, inviting anyone he has offended to contact him so that he can try to understand how his words and actions have effected others.

"They are a weight that hangs from my shoulders everyday," Hunt said, in one of his Thursday tweets. "I wish I had never said/done the things I did; now I can only try to atone."

Hunt previously published similar tweets in January, saying he still has work to do in terms of "feminist ideology" and that otherwise he's feeling good about where he is "ideologically."

In an interview, Hunt explained that the tweets were an attempt to atone for the "sins" of his past, saying that the comments to which he referred to would be colloquially deemed locker room talk that he now deems wrong. 

"We all need to accept that it is wrong before we can move forward," he said. "Especially things like 'harmless' racist jokes to friends. But even though it's in a relatively private atmosphere, it still perpetuates those systems and cements them in the participants' minds and worldview."

Hunt's tweets and comments come in the wake of previously unacknowledged images showing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau donning brownface in 2001 while he was a teacher at West Point Grey Academy, as well as additional photos and a video showing Trudeau donning blackface. 

"The fact that he didn't come forward about these things of his own volition are what really make an impact on me as evidenced by my tweets and my activities online," said Hunt. "I am fully accepting of my past and I believe that in order to really get forgiveness we need to accept it of our own volition."

Hunt said he believes voters need to know that would-be elected officials have "grown from any past missteps."

He added that potential candidates who have engaged in prejudice in the past aren't necessarily immediately disqualified from holding public office. 

"You need to accept what you've done and say 'I've done it,'" he said. "But we can move from here. You're not lost, we need you in this fight."

Hunt hasn't received phone calls or messages from individuals to whom he has caused offence through his past words and actions.

"We are at a turning point," he said. "We need to really do a lot of introspection, both personally and societally. We need to accept that not only has this country built upon racism and a patriarchal society, but it's still like that we still have racist, sexist laws and people."

CBC News reached out to Hunt's fellow Windsor West candidates for comments. 

Both NDP candidate Brian Masse and Liberal candidate Sandra Pupatello declined to comment.

A representative for Conservative candidate Henry Lau say they don't know Hunt personally. 

"Seems like this is a very commendable and sincere gesture of outreach and we wish him all the best," said Lau's representative. 

People's Party candidate Darry Burrell said Hunt was "pandering for votes."

"Maybe he's feeling guilty?" said Burrell, in an email. 

'An interesting contrast to what we saw this week'

For her part, University of Windsor political science professor Lydia Miljan said Hunt's tweets are a way to get ahead of the story.

"It's anticipating opposition research and it's an interesting contrast to what we saw this week, because obviously candidates themselves know better than anyone else what the skeletons are in the closet," said Miljan. "What this candidate is doing is saying, you know what? You guys got to find out anyway, and I'm just going to point blank apologize."

Katerina Georgieva/CBC

Miljan said it's not clear if Hunt's tweets will help or hinder his chances at winning his riding's election in October. 

"But I think it changes the ways in which opposition research is done, and there is an interesting conversation about what I now understand is called cancel politics, which apparently if someone's done something in the past that was bad, it cancels them out for any kind of future run for political officer."

According to Miljan, it's possible that social media and other public platforms will make it more difficult for younger political hopefuls to seek office because anything posted online is more permanent than in the past. 

She added that we need the same rules and the same judgment applied to every candidate.

"We can't say we're going to judge conservatives more harshly than we're going to judge NDP [candidates] or leaders of parties are held to a different standard," said Miljan. "We're going to decide what the standard is and apply it across the board."