POLITICS

Stefan Jonasson, NDP Candidate, Drops Out After Remarks About Orthodox Jewish Group

09/24/2015 10:51 EDT | Updated 09/25/2015 05:59 EDT

An NDP candidate has dropped out of the race in a Winnipeg riding after it emerged that he compared the actions of an Orthodox Jewish group to the Taliban.

Stefan Jonasson, a Unitarian minister, is no longer a candidate in the riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingly.

Jonasson said the party asked him to step aside after he criticized the treatment of women by the Haredim, an Orthodox Jewish sect.

"I wish that the party had had the courage and the foresight to believe that my candidacy was worth defending, but they did not," he said.

"I'm conflicted. I understand the party's reasoning and it's a disappointment to me."

Jonasson is a minister in the Unitarian Universalist church, a liberal religious organization that draws on Christian, Jewish, Hindu and other beliefs and also includes agnostics and atheists.

Statements attributed to him, which appear to have been published on social media in 2011 and 2012, showed up on The True North Times, a political website that has pledged to out nine politicians over nine days for comments they have made.

In a religious article, Jonasson condemned Haredim practices such as strict dress codes and segregation of the sexes, writing, "Much like the Taliban and other extremists, the Haredim offer a toxic caricature of faith, at odds with the spirit of the religious tradition they profess to represent."

Other posts show him stating that "the deployment of police is a propaganda tool, not a security measure." He also wrote, "We still have some embarrassingly wealthy people in Manitoba."

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair told reporters following the leaders' French debate in Montreal on Thursday: "I think that that person clearly recognized that he had said something totally inappropriate and has withdrawn and that's enough."

With files from The Canadian Press

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