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Winnipeg NDP candidate steps down after comments surfaced comparing orthodox Jewish group to Taliban

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/9/2015 (1395 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The NDP candidate for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley has stepped down after comparing the practices of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group to the Taliban.

NDP spokesman George Soule confirmed late Thursday that Stefan Jonasson, who previously ran for city council in the area, has resigned.

In 2012, Jonasson tweeted “Much like the Taliban and other extremists, the Haredim offer a toxic caricature of faith, at odds with the spirit of the religious tradition they profess to represent.”

The tweet surfaced Thursday on the True North Times, a blog whose stated goal is to capitalize on “scandals, politicians who are more ridiculous than cartoon characters and a highly contested election on the horizon, where there will surely be blunders and comedic moments.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/9/2015 (1395 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The NDP candidate for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley has stepped down after comparing the practices of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group to the Taliban.

NDP spokesman George Soule confirmed late Thursday that Stefan Jonasson, who previously ran for city council in the area, has resigned.

Stefan Jonasson, 55, was running in the riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, currently held by Conservative Steven Fletcher.

FACEBOOK PHOTO

Stefan Jonasson, 55, was running in the riding of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley, currently held by Conservative Steven Fletcher.

In 2012, Jonasson tweeted "Much like the Taliban and other extremists, the Haredim offer a toxic caricature of faith, at odds with the spirit of the religious tradition they profess to represent."

The tweet surfaced Thursday on the True North Times, a blog whose stated goal is to capitalize on "scandals, politicians who are more ridiculous than cartoon characters and a highly contested election on the horizon, where there will surely be blunders and comedic moments."

Jonasson told the Canadian Press his comments were taken out of context — he was not comparing Jews to a terrorist group.He said he was criticizing the way women are treated by the Haredim, including segregation of the sexes and strict dress codes.

Jonasson says he was asked by the NDP to step down and agreed to do so.

"I wish that the party had had the courage and the foresight to believe that my candidacy was worth defending, but they did not," Jonasson told the Canadian Press Thursday night.

"I'm conflicted. I understand the party's reasoning and it's a disappointment to me."

Jonasson said he was asked by the NDP to step down, and he agreed.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair issued a brief comment about Jonasson's decision following the leaders' French-language debate in Montreal.

"I think that that person clearly recognized that he had said something totally inappropriate and has withdrawn and that's enough," he said.

Jonasson has a bachelor’s degree in theology and arts as well as a master’s degree in divinity from the University of Winnipeg. He’s been a Unitarian minister since 1991. He served in senior roles in the church, most recently as director of growth strategies and large congregation development.

The riding is currently held by Conservative Steven Fletcher. Also running are Liberal Doug Eyolfson and Green Party candidate Kevin Nichols.

The NDP placed second in the riding during the 2011 federal election.

"There is no safe seat for the Conservatives as I believe most Canadians want this government gone," he told the Canstar community newspaper, The Metro, earlier this year.

"I’m concerned about the growing inequalities amongst Canadians."

Jonasson ran in last year’s municipal election in which he placed third in the St. James-Brooklands ward.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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History

Updated on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 9:46 PM CDT: Update with details from the Canadian Press

10:11 PM: Updates from WFP reporters

10:20 PM: Changes headline

10:40 PM: Adds Mulcair comments from The Canadian Press

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