New Democratic candidate and former CBC broadcaster Wab Kinew refused to back down Friday after Manitoba Liberals called for the NDP to drop him as a candidate over tweets they call "hurtful" and "damaging."
Kinew, the NDP's star candidate in Fort Rouge, has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons after derogatory and misogynistic tweets he made during his time as a hip-hop artist recently resurfaced.
Standing beside Kinew on Friday, NDP Leader Greg Selinger said he had no plans to drop Kinew.
"Look, when you offer yourself to public life, as you know, you're out there," Selinger said.
"The reality is Wab, before he came into political life, made a complete apology for any of the things he's done in the past that have hurt other people," said Selinger.
Kinew maintained he has shown accountability.
"There are allegations being made so I thought it was important for me to come here and face the alligators," joked Kinew on Friday.
"I've been an open book.… I've been transparent, I have been accountable," said Kinew.
Earlier on Friday, Noel Bernier, the Liberal candidate in Winnipeg's St. John's constituency, told reporters his party wants to see the NDP drop Kinew.
"He should go, but it should be Mr. Selinger making that decision."
Kinew said he was prepared to debate policy but he will not get "caught up into a game of mutual slander."
Kinew's lyrics have referred to women as "bitches" and "whores."
Kinew's comments are "hurtful, they're damaging, and they're offensive to a lot of people. Every moment that goes by, that the NDP stands beside Wab, the NDP stands beside those comments," Bernier said. "[If] they stand beside those words, then that's what today's NDP is all about."
Kinew has repeatedly pointed out that he acknowledged and apologized for his comments in his 2015 book, The Reason You Walk. He also said he has called on hip-hop artists to stop using misogynistic lyrics.
Bernier, however, said that only covers the offensive words in Kinew's music. There is a "plethora" of other offensive tweets that have nothing to do with his lyrics, Bernier said, adding that in one of them Kinew made light of the situation in Attawapiskat, an Ontario First Nation that was making national headlines due to its housing crisis.
Bernier, director of the party's northern indigenous caucus, said he was addressing the media because of a conflict of interest for Liberal Party Leader Rana Bokhari. She is running against Kinew in Fort Rouge.
The Liberals know how it feels to face a candidate's controversial tweets. They cut ties with their Southdale candidate Jamie Hall a day after inappropriate tweets he made a few years ago about "whores" and "skanks" surfaced.
- Manitoba Liberals sever ties with Jamie Hall over misogynistic tweets
- Manitoba candidates Jamie Hall and Wab Kinew under fire for comments about women
"Our leader did exactly what you're supposed to do as a leader. She took the appropriate action," Bernier said.
He accused the New Democrats of a double standard, because they had called on the Liberals to fire Hall, yet are holding on to Kinew as a candidate.
Social media and the history it holds of a person's views are making all politicians second-guess themselves, Bernier said.
"I've seen tweets from our own candidates that could be described as vulgar and angry, but they are always in defence of good; they are always fighting for someone vulnerable," Bernier said.
"But there is nothing redeeming or positive in any of [Kinew's] tweets."
"I haven't heard him apologize to the children of Attawapiskat, and I haven't heard him apologize to women for his incredibly sexist remarks," Bernier said.
"This is about a pattern of comments and behaviour."
Selinger said Kinew has apologized in full for his comments and has changed as a person since he made them.
"I accept that Wab's made a huge gigantic change in his life, and I respect that," said Selinger.