NDP call on UCP to pull nomination candidate after Nazi meme scandal
Philip Schuman said he didn't see the anti-Semitic content on an Instagram account he offered funding to
The New Democratic Party is calling on United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney to bar a Calgary candidate from the Calgary-Glenmore nomination after he was embroiled in a meme scandal.
In an interview, Philip Schuman openly admitted he offered to fund and help a conservative Instagram account known as "Rightwingism." The account was apparently posting racist, anti-Semitic content.
In one screen capture, memes included an image of Hitler with the caption that read "When your art career fails so you decide to invade Poland instead." Another image included an opinion about "race mixing" and suggesting Caucasians should "stay within their own race" for preservation.
'I guess I missed a few'
In an interview with CBC News, Schuman said he contacts hundreds of conservative Instagram accounts every month with the same message and didn't see the offensive content. The account posted memes that Schuman said included anti-Semitic sentiments — upon further inspection.
"They're posting, you know, dozens of things a week, and I guess I missed that a few of them had, well, frankly, things that I can't support," said Schuman. "I categorically condemn any form of hate speech always have an always will."
He said he is a longstanding known name in the Jewish community and scraped graffiti off the Jewish centre when he was 16.
Schuman suggested that since his offer to give the account support in terms of connecting it to conservative followers, content or introduction to funders, the account's administrators had changed hands several times.
"I did very little review of what was on the account, I'll admit," he said.
But Schuman wanted to be clear that an introduction is not a guarantee of funding and he would have looked through the content more closely if the account had shown interest in his proposition.
"I am a supporter of young conservatives, unapologetically," he said.
The UCP's executive director Janice Harrington told CBC News she has no comment on the issue.
Sent similar messages
Schuman said he's probably sent the following, or similar message, to nearly every account that uses the #conservative hashtag on Instagram:
Would you guys benefit from receiving some funding? I have been talking about your account a lot as a part of my political campaign and have met some older, wealthier, people that would be interested in helping you out. Your account brings hope to a lot of older baby boomers that think that the younger generation is a lost cause.
Be in touch,
He said he was initially interested by the account's libertarian contributor because he identifies with the libertarian style.
The @Rightwingism account is no longer searchable and an image posted by another account suggests it was taken down by Instagram. The hashtag #rightwingism has been used 1,106 times on the photo-sharing app and top posts include images about the original account being taken down, political memes and a drawing of a skeleton with the caption "Generation of Revenge" and #Nazi #Art.
In a press release, the NDP says that given the circumstances, Kenney has only one option regarding Schuman's candidacy and must "immediately remove him from the nomination race."
"Jason Kenney has allowed candidates to run for his party that are spreading hateful and racist content online, and now he has someone on his team who wants to fund them," said NDP MLA Irfan Sabir in a news release. "Kenney must remove Philip Schuman as a candidate immediately."
'It's up to the party'
Schuman said he believes the Jewish community in Calgary-Glenmore will continue to support him.
"I trust that they know who they're dealing with and that I'm not anti-Semitic," he said. As for whether or not his candidacy is at risk because of the scandal, Schuman said it's up to the party to do what's best for the conservative movement in Canada.
"I offered to help some people, frankly, mistakenly," he said. "I did not know what it was."
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With files from Michelle Bellefontaine.