Stefan Jonasson: 'I really wish that my party would have stood with me'
Ousted NDP candidate in Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley says he's 'done with politics'
Stefan Jonasson says he believes the federal New Democrats acted too quickly in asking him to step down as its candidate over a social media comment from three years ago.
He dropped out of the election race in Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley on Thursday, after comments surfaced in which he compared the beliefs of the Haredim, an Orthodox branch of Judaism, to the Taliban with regards to the treatment of women.
Late Friday afternoon, Jonasson told CBC News that while he wished he had worded things differently, he defends the comparison he made.
He added that he agreed to step down at the NDP's request, but he wished the party hadn't asked.
"I regret the circumstances of it, but I stand with women and I really wish that my party would have stood with me," he told the CBC's Sean Kavanagh in an interview.
Jonasson said his remarks were taken out of context by The True North Times, a website that has promised to expose controversial comments by nine politicians in nine days.
"I think I'm done with politics," he said.
"What I worry about is that I think growing numbers of Canadians are going to be done with politics — good people who don't want to put up with this kind of nonsense, the malevolent, 'gotcha' politics of gutter journalism."
'He's made a big mistake,' says Fletcher
Jonasson was hoping to unseat Conservative Steven Fletcher, who easily won the riding in 2011 with 57 per cent of the vote.
On Friday, Fletcher told CBC News he thinks the NDP should have booted Winnipeg Centre candidate Pat Martin before Jonasson.
Fletcher argued that Martin's use of foul language, which he demonstrated several times against his opponents in the past week, appears to be more of a concern than a single mistake made by Jonasson.
"I don't know Mr. Jonasson very well. I met him a couple of times," he said. "My impression is that he is not someone who is anti-Semitic. I think he's made a big mistake."
Fletcher added that he believes the NDP acted hastily in removing Jonasson.
"I wonder where the NDP actually draw the line. It seems very haphazard," he said. "There's obviously no standards and, you know, it seems unfair, actually — I can't believe I'm saying this."
Jonasson's departure could help Liberal candidate Doug Eyolfson, although the Liberals finished a distant third in 2011 with 7.5 per cent of the vote.
With files from The Canadian Press