Saskatchewan

'Holocaust' comment not appropriate: Layton

NDP leader Jack Layton says it's not appropriate for one of his Saskatchewan candidates to call the Indian residential school experience a "holocaust."

NDP leader Jack Layton says it's not appropriate for one of his Saskatchewan candidates to call the Indian residential school experience a "holocaust."

Speaking to reporters in Thunder Bay, Ont., on Wednesday night, Layton said he's glad Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River candidate Lawrence Joseph has apologized for using those words.

The Holocaust is a term commonly used to describe the systematic murder of six million Jewish people by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Some historians and former residential school students have likened the residential school system as Canada's own holocaust, referring to the abuse and systematic racism experienced in the schools during last half of the 20th century.

Layton said he understood where Joseph, a former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, was coming from. 

"There's no question that the residential school experience was devastating for a great many aboriginal Canadians. And emotions overtook him," Layton said.

Joseph made the Holocaust remark during an all-candidates forum Tuesday night in Meadow Lake, Sask.  

Some media outlets have reported that Joseph stands by his remarks, but Layton suggested otherwise.

"I'm glad that he has expressed his regrets and his apology for the use of that word," Layton said

On Thursday morning, Joseph's campaign manager told CBC that Joseph is out of cellphone range and unavailable for further comment.

The NDP has high hopes for Joseph to win a seat in Saskatchewan. The NDP were shut out of the province in the 2008 election.

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