Order of Canada recipient calls for former PC campaign staffer's expulsion from party

A recipient of the Order of Canada for his long-standing work bettering race relations is calling on the Ontario PC Party to revoke the membership of a former campaign staffer over a social media comment about fundamentalist Islam.

Garnet Angeconeb says there's 'no room' for Anne Ayotte's comments in Canada

Garnet Angeconeb says Anne Ayotte's membership to the Ontario PC party should be revoked over the comments that got her removed from Kiiwetinoong candidate Clifford Bull's campaign team. (Provided by Garnet Angeconeb)

A recipient of the Order of Canada for his long-standing work bettering race relations is calling on the Ontario PC Party to revoke the membership of a former campaign staffer over a social media comment about fundamentalist Islam.

Garnet Angeconeb, who lives in Sioux Lookout, Ont., laid out his thoughts in a letter to Clifford Bull, the Conservative candidate in the Kiiwetinoong riding, and blasted the "targeted social media comments about a group of people." He said the comments by former campaign manager Anne Ayotte were "racist" and an example of "hatred."

Bull's campaign announced on Tuesday that it "parted ways" with a staff member over comments made on social media. CBC News confirmed that Ayotte had tweeted that "Islamism is not a true religion, it is a fraud being perpetuated on the world," before saying that "they must be eradicated otherwise they will eradicate us."

Ayotte has claimed that the tweet was in response to a post by Tarek Fatah,  the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and outspoken critic of radical Islam. Ayotte's tweet has since been deleted.

Islamism is a political and cultural movement that dictates the Qur'an should rule all aspects of life. Its followers may or may not be militant.

"There is no room for ... these kinds of comments coming from a person holding a position of responsibility," Angeconeb told CBC News. "It's just really sad that these kinds of things go on in 2018."

"Really, there's no room for these kinds of comments in Sioux Lookout, in Kiiwetinoong, in the province or indeed in the country so obviously I took exception to those comments."

Ayotte also worked for a number of years for Greg Rickford, a former Kenora MP and current provincial candidate in the Kenora-Rainy River riding.

Call for party membership to be revoked

In his letter to Bull about Ayotte, Angeconeb said the party "must revoke her membership and completely sever all affiliations with her."

"To have her removed from the campaign is not good enough," he told CBC News.

When asked whether the PCs would do that, a party spokesperson would only say that Ayotte "is no longer associated with the campaign."

Ayotte did not respond to requests for comment from CBC News on Wednesday. She did tweet that her comments were taken out of context, that she wasn't advocating genocide and wasn't referring to the Muslin faith, rather "a dangerous ideology."

In its statement on Tuesday, Bull's campaign said that "there is no place for disrespectful or hateful comments in our party," a statement that party officials said on Wednesday still stood. Angeconeb, however, said he wants to see those words put into action.

"I commend Clifford [Bull] for distancing himself from the staffer," Angeconeb said. "But I also think that and encourage that the party itself ... take some action and completely sever ties with this particular individual."

Angeconeb said he knows Ayotte and has had "some contact with her" over the years; he added that the Twitter comments "surprised" him but that "it surprised me to see it come from anybody."