Montreal

Hassan Guillet to run as independent after Liberal Party expulsion

Hassan Guillet, booted from the Liberal Party of Canada after being accused of making anti-Semitic comments, announced Tuesday he is running as an independent.

Candidate challenges Liberal Party for its decision to expel him based on old allegations of anti-Semitism

Hassan Guillet says he is now running as an independent after being booted from the Liberal Party of Canada nearly one month ago. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

Hassan Guillet, booted from the Liberal Party of Canada after being accused of making anti-Semitic comments, announced Tuesday he is running as an independent.

"Our campaign will be clean, professional and inclusive," he told reporters. "We will work with all citizens regardless of their origins."

He said the aim is to offer the constituents of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel a "free and independent voice," ensuring they are represented by somebody "they chose themselves."

Guillet was removed by the Liberal Party on Aug. 30 after a national Jewish organization, B'nai Brith Canada, published a statement on its website claiming Guillet praised a Hamas-aligned activist, Raed Salah.

Guillet has continued to deny allegations of anti-Semitism, saying the accusations are "without foundation."

"There was another agenda," he said Tuesday, questioning the motivation behind the Liberal Party's decision.

He said the decision was made weeks after he was nominated fairly by the local riding, but the allegations had been floating around for much longer.

Guillet had been in discussions with the party since November 2017 with the objective of being a candidate this year in the liberal stronghold, he said. He questioned the party's decision to react to the allegations just as the campaign was kicking off.

Since the decision to withdraw his candidacy, Guillet said he has received support from the community.

With that in mind, he opted to run as an independent despite the fact that he will not have access to the same level of resources as the major parties.

"But, on the other hand, I will have the freedom to serve the interests of the people of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel and be their true spokesman in the parliament without being limited by policies or directives of a particular party,'' said Guillet.

Guillet is a member of the Council of Quebec Imams. He gained national attention after delivering a speech in Quebec City honouring victims of the Quebec mosque shooting.

Within two weeks of his expulsion from the party, the Liberals opted to go with its longstanding tradition of running a candidate with ties to the Italian community. Montreal Coun. Patricia Lattanzio is now flying Liberal colours.

With files from Lauren McCallum

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