Just weeks before the federal election campaign gets into full swing, Quebec candidate Hassan Guillet was canned by the Liberal Party on Friday after a national Jewish organization accused him of making anti-Semitic comments.
But Guillet, who denies all allegations, is not throwing in the towel just yet.
He says he has not resigned and “I do not betray the dreams of all those who believed in me and gave me their trust.”
The statement was published to his Facebook page late Saturday evening. Guillet says he and his team are studying all options and he will hold a press conference on Wednesday in the Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel riding.
“I am completely shocked by the decision of the Liberal Party of Canada to unilaterally withdraw my candidacy three months after winning the nomination contest according to the rules of the party itself,” he wrote.
Guillet, a member of the Council of Quebec Imams, gained national attention after delivering a speech in Quebec City honouring victims of the Quebec mosque shooting.
Allegations of anti-Semitism
Last week the Liberals revoked his candidacy after, in a statement on its website, B’nai Brith Canada said Guillet praised a Hamas-aligned activist, Raed Salah.
The Jewish service organization alleged Guillet had a history of making anti-Semitic comments on social media.
In a post on his Facebook account on Friday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “do the right thing, immediately condemn these anti-Semitic comments, and fire this candidate.”
The Liberals did just that.
“The insensitive comments made by Hassan Guillet are not aligned with the values of the Liberal Party of Canada,” the party said in a media statement.
And now Liberal members of parliament have been distancing themselves from Guillet.
“For past 4 years, Liberal Party has been a steadfast friend of Israel and has taken a strong stand against anti-Semitism in Canada and around the world. Mr Guillet does not represent these values,” Toronto’s York Centre MP Michael Levitt tweeted on Friday.
B’nai Brith Canada commended the Liberal Party’s decision to dump the candidate.
Satisfying to see such a speedy reaction to <a href=”https://twitter.com/bnaibrithcanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@bnaibrithcanada</a>’s revelations earlier today about Mr. Guillet. Canadians will never stand for candidates that have articulated such bigoted views. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cdnpoli</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/elxn43?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#elxn43</a> <a href=”https://t.co/ikDOOWu5SL”>https://t.co/ikDOOWu5SL</a>
The organization’s chief executive officer, Michael Mostyn, tweeted it is “satisfying to see such a speedy reaction” to the allegations.
The Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel has long been a Liberal stronghold, dating back to when it was first formed in 1988.
Guillet counters claims
Guillet, on the other hand, says the claims against him are false.
“I confirm that I am not anti-Semitic,” Guillet said in a statement. “On the contrary, I campaign and will always campaign against all forms of racism including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.”
Earlier on Saturday, Guillet made a Facebook post saying, “This is not the whole truth and it is not the end.”
“Certainly I will not abandon the thousands of people who have believed in me and want real change. Soon the truth will be known by all. We have an appointment with history.”