Eastern Ontario Green Party candidate withdraws night before election following 'unacceptable' comments

The Green Party riding association for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke says their candidate, Michael Lariviere, has withdrawn his candidacy following comments at a local debate.

Lariviere compared proof of vaccination systems to Nazi Germany during the debate on Sept. 14.

"I don't want to have to walk around with a passport," he said in response to a question asking whether candidates support the efforts to encourage vaccinations against COVID-19.

"The way I look at it is, the Gestapo and the German military during the Second World War wanted people to be tattooed and this is the next—the beginning of that step."

In a Facebook post late Sunday night, the riding association apologized for Lariviere's comments.

"It was recently brought to our attention that Green Party candidate Michael Lariviere made unacceptable comments at an all candidates’ debate last week," the post says. "We deeply regret Mr. La Riviere’s (sic) offensive statements and apologize sincerely for the distress his words have caused. Mr. Lariviere has now withdrawn his candidacy."

In a reply to a comment on the Facebook post, the party said Lariviere "made offensive and untrue comments during the campaign that bordered on hate speech" and apologized for any distress.

The post came just under 12 hours before polls opened on Election Day. Lariviere's name will remain on the ballot because it is well past the official withdrawal date.

John Epps, the CEO of the Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke Green Party Association told CTVNewsOttawa.ca by phone that Lariviere was contacted by the party when his comments came to light, but he refused to retract them or apologize.

"There is no room in the Green Party of Canada for this kind of behaviour," Epps said. "I, as his delegate, apologize to our supporters for any discomfort this may have caused."

Epps is the individual who answered the phone number listed on Elections Canada's website for Lariviere.

Lariviere did not appear on the Green Party of Canada's website as a candidate on Monday.

Other candidates running in the riding include:

  • Conservative Party: Cheryl Gallant (incumbent)
  • Liberal Party: Cyndi Mills
  • NDP: Jodie Primeau
  • People's Party of Canada: David Ainsworth
  • Independent: Stefan Klietsch