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Candidate Who Dropped Out Could Still Be Elected as Liberal, Agent Says

Cheryl Thomas quit after past social media posts came to light.

By Andrew MacLeod 8 Oct 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, April 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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Cheryl Thomas has 'strong personal integrity,' her agent says.

Liberal candidate Cheryl Thomas quit campaigning after controversial statements she made on Facebook about Muslims, Israelis and Santa Claus became public, but she could still be elected as part of Justin Trudeau's team, according to her official agent.

"I am writing to clarify the status of Cheryl Thomas’s candidacy in the Victoria riding in the upcoming federal election," official agent Gordon Gunn wrote in a letter to the Times Colonist newspaper.

Thomas' past Facebook posts uncovered by an Ontario website "cast her in a negative light," Gunn wrote. "After discussing these posts with the federal Liberal campaign team, Thomas chose to cease active campaigning to avoid becoming a distraction to the federal campaign."

By the time she withdrew, however, it was too late to have her name removed from ballots. Said Gunn, "She remains the Liberal candidate for Victoria and will appear on the ballot as such."

Thomas has "strong personal integrity" and will be prepared once the election is over to comment on the issues that led her to stop campaigning, he wrote.

"In the meantime, I plan to use my vote on Oct. 19 to show my support for Justin Trudeau and Cheryl Thomas, the Liberal candidate for Victoria," Gunn concluded. "Let the voters decide whether she will be our next MP."

Liberal or independent?

In an email, Gunn said it is unclear whether Thomas, if elected, would sit as a Liberal or an independent.

Late Thursday, a Liberal spokesperson said that Thomas resigned as a Liberal candidate and will not sit in parliament as a Liberal if she wins.

"She is not considered by us a Liberal candidate," said party spokesperson Olivier Duchesneau. "Therefore she would not be part of the Liberal caucus ... Everything is crystal clear."*

Thomas left the race on Sept. 30 after The True North Times website reported on her various past social media posts, including that "mosques are used as brainwashing stations" and that "the oppressed of the Warsaw ghettos and the concentration camps have become the oppressors."

According to screenshots on the website, she also wrote "Santa has to be white!!! You can’t have a brown guy with a beard sneaking into your house in the middle of the night! You’d be calling the bomb squad!"

Thomas apologized for the comments when she withdrew from the race.

Also running in Victoria are the incumbent for the NDP Murray Rankin, the Green Party's Jo-Ann Roberts and Conservative John Rizzuti.

*Story updated with Liberal party response at 5 p.m.  [Tyee]

Read more: Election 2015

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