POLITICS
04/12/2018 22:14 EDT | Updated 04/13/2018 16:32 EDT

Ontario NDP Says Matt Soprovich 'Glorified Violence Against Women'

The prospective nominee says the accusations have him "reeling."

An Ontario man says he is stunned after the provincial NDP accused him of making social media posts glorifying violence against women.

Matt Soprovich had hoped to become the party's candidate in Kenora-Rainy River for the upcoming election but in a Tuesday Facebook post he said that he was disqualified from the nomination race.

@votemattsop/Facebook
Matt Soprovich.

His post said that the party had disqualified him "due to historical content on [his] personal social media feeds" including a 2013 photo where his "whole behind" was on display, a 2018 Instagram video of him ripping his shirt open and a 2013 Facebook status about a hangover.

He also noted that none of his posts were "adverse or critical of NDP policy, leaders or values, or demeaning of other people or groups" and that they reflected "lapses in judgement from [his] youth that [he has] let stand because they are reflections of the path that [he has] taken, and the sincere, honest person [he] wished to offer the electorate."

The Ontario NDP fired back Thursday with a statement that said Soprovich was actually disqualified due to a different series of posts.

"The reason Soprovich has failed the Party's vetting process is because of multiple social media posts that glorified violence against women, or predatory behaviour towards women," the statement says.

"In one example, Soprovich compares women to animals, writing 'you might end up hitting them with your car.' In another example, Soprovich describes, in a blog, efforts to prevent a woman from coming to the aid of her sister in a potentially dangerous or compromising situation, saying he was trying to stop her from being a 'cock block.'"

Ontario NDP handout
The image shows a screenshot from the Ontario NDP of one of Soprovich's alleged posts.

Ontario NDP handout
The image shows a screenshot from the Ontario NDP of an excerpt from one of Soprovich's alleged blog posts.

Soprovich told HuffPost Canada he is "reeling" from the allegations.

"I take these allegations very seriously. Today's statement from the NDP reflects an organization that now has vested interest in trying to paint me in the most unflattering light possible," he said in a Facebook message on Thursday night.

In a Friday statement, Soprovich said the situation described in the blog post did not indicate that the two individuals who went to "make out" were "under stress, intoxication, duress, or any sort of coercion, whether real or perceived" nor had any concerns been expressed for anyone's safety.

"I understand the concerns and fears that women have to face on a daily basis, and I assure you that had I felt any inclination that this was a dangerous situation, I would have reacted differently." He also rejected the assertion that he was glorifying predatory behaviour.

He added the second post was made by a female friend quoting the TV show "Workaholics" and the NDP did not reference it when rejecting him as a nominee.

"It's clear when read in context that my response was an attempt to parody on the original character's absurdist statement... I do not stand by the content today, but for the party to only now raise this as an issue and characterize these words as endorsing violence against women is deliberately misconstruing the content in order to suit their narrative. Violence against women is not a political tool."

Before the NDP's Thursday statement, Soprovich had told CBC News that he didn't believe he was being treated fairly by the party.

"I don't believe I was treated reasonably or objectively in this manner."

Soprovich has been a staffer with NDP MPP Sarah Campbell since fall 2014, according to the Fort Frances Times. He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2009 with a political science degree, Maclean's reported.

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