CHUTE-A-BLONDEAU, Ont. - Ontario's Liberals lashed out against the NDP on Tuesday, sinking their teeth into a comment a Niagara-area New Democrat candidate made about Nazi Germany and not letting go, despite cries that the remark was misconstrued and wildly out of context.
The Liberals called for Ontario New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath to dump Anthony Marco as her candidate in Niagara-West-Glanbrook, the riding held by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, over comments in a podcast posted on Marco's website last year before he became a candidate.
The Liberals singled out a portion where Marco suggests he can't condemn Nazi politics and thinks that those who devote themselves to fighting Nazis are "pretty messed up."
"For some people the old politics of Nazi Germany might be their religion. And just as I can't condemn other people's religion, I can't, I don't agree with them, but you can't stop somebody from believing in something," he said in the podcast. "You're the one who is pretty messed up if you're going to devote your entire life to trying to convince somebody not to believe what they believe."
The NDP later released a statement from Marco, saying any suggestion he would excuse or downplay the "heinous" crimes of the Nazis is offensive.
Still, Horwath was grilled about Marco's comments at her appearance at the International Plowing Match and she stood by him.
"It's very apparent that the Liberals, once again, are misinterpreting and misleading people as to what Mr. Marco has said in his podcasts," she said.
"I think this is an attempt of the Liberals to cast mud on a candidate that is running for the NDP and I think Ontarians deserve better than this."
Hudak was hesitant to wade into the fray without seeing the transcript, but took issue with the tenor of the remarks.
"I don't know exactly what the comments were but they sound rather extreme and disappointing," he said.
In a fuller version of the text of the podcast, Marco talks about how he doesn't believe in burning books, even if he is against the ideology in a book.
"But there are a couple that I would suggest burning, and it’s not even from an ideological perspective, like 'Oh, burn stuff by Adolf Hitler,'" he said.
"Whatever. If you want to read that stuff, read that stuff. For some people the old politics of Nazi Germany might be their religion," Marco says, continuing into the quote provided earlier by the Liberals.
The NDP questioned the Liberal strategy of trying to paint their candidate as a Nazi defender with out-of-context quotes. But the Liberals continued highlighting more quotes from Marco's podcast, though they didn't specify if they were suggesting they found them offensive, too:
— "I went to Catholic church. I was even an altar boy for a long period of time and I'm proud to say was never been molested once."
— "I'm probably unabashedly atheist for the most part."
— "If you choose to have your faith in God ... or you choose to have your faith in aliens from outer space, whatever, so be it. Just don't cut me off while I'm driving, don't try to take advantage of me and screw me over with some sort of bizarre sort of financial Ponzi scheme."
One quote from Marco's book-burning podcast rant the Liberals have not taken issue with is his last line, where he sets his sights on Canadian pop star Justin Bieber's autobiography.
"If you want something to burn and feel good about it, burn Bieber's book."