Federal NDP candidate Alex Johnstone says she recently returned from an “educational” trip visiting Auschwitz — nearly a month after she apologized for making a phallic joke about the infamous Nazi concentration camp.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas candidate explained she accepted an invitation from the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies to join its annual “From Compassion to Action” trip.
“This has been an extremely educational and humbling experience for me,” wrote Johnstone. The trip took place during the election campaign from Oct. 11-14.
She acknowledged the “inappropriate comments” she made on social media as a reason why she accepted the invitation.
According to the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s website, the trip’s mandate is to assemble a “high level, influential Canadian delegations” of professionals to visit Holocaust sites “to further understand the tragic consequences of hate.”
“I am committed to raising awareness about the need to combat racism, discrimination and anti-semitism in all its forms,” she wrote. “I hope that this step will help me in that goal.”
Last month, Johnstone tangled herself in an election controversy after a satirical website shared a screengrab of a penis joke she made seven years ago underneath a friend’s photo of an electrified fence and curved post at Auschwitz.
“Ahhh, the infamous Pollish (sic), phallic, hydro posts,” read the Facebook comment from April 2008. It continued, “Of course you took pictures of this! It expresses how the curve is normal, natural, and healthy right!”
She later apologized by saying she didn’t intend any malice, admitting to a local reporter that she wasn’t aware Auschwitz was a concentration camp until the controversy erupted — despite holding an executive school board position.
Johnstone, who did not drop her federal candidacy, temporarily stepped down from her vice-chairwoman position with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
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