Rob Shaw: BC Conservatives lose Courtenay-Comox candidate over social media posts

Rob Shaw: BC Conservatives lose Courtenay-Comox candidate over social media posts

The BC Conservative candidate for Courtenay-Comox has resigned after making social media comments that critics say are homophobic and reprehensible.

Damon Scrase said in a statement he was stepping down as candidate to avoid distracting the campaign, after his posts began to circulate and attract criticism online Tuesday.

“Like many of us I have made posts on social media years ago that make me wince, which don’t reflect what I think or who I am today,” he wrote in a statement.

“I recognized this and deleted them.”

Scrase did not return a request for comment.

He is the third Conservative candidate on Vancouver Island to be removed in the last two months.

Esquimalt nurse Jan Webb was fired after saying people vaccinated for COVID are more likely to spread the virus, and Denman Island doctor Stephen Malthouse (whose medical license was suspended) was fired for spreading medical misinformation and alleging vaccines give people magnetism.

In the now-deleted posts, first highlighted by CKNW host Jas Johal, Scrase called LGBTQ people at pride parades “degenerates” who “break public indecency laws” and that supporting them is akin to “a mental illness factory.”

He also called pride participants “perverts” who “expose themselves to children for kicks” and expressed fear that “the most common gay fetish is seducing straight people.”

The Opposition BC United compiled a list of Scrase’s questionable posts that runs more than 56 pages, including comparing vaccines to nazism and rape, and calling hereditary First Nations chiefs “genetic lottery chiefs.”

Despite his resignation, Scrase was still active on social media Wednesday, emphasizing that he never actually apologized in his statement, and reposting material critical of party leader John Rustad.

Rustad is set to hold a rally in Courtenay on Thursday night that was to feature Scrase prominently – though his likeness has now been scrubbed from the advertising.

Rustad did not return a request for comment.

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Scrase had been the Conservative candidate for the riding for several months, campaigning with Rustad, and at one point visiting him for an event at the B.C. legislature.

Premier David Eby slammed both Scrase as an individual, and the judgement shown by Rustad in approving his candidacy when so much questionable material was already available publicly.

“Obviously the comments of this candidate are reprehensible, reprehensible, they’re homophobic, they’re hateful, they’re divisive, and they don’t make our province better,” Eby said Wednesday at an event in Oliver.

“I think that the big problem is not just this one candidate, but that these views run through the entirety of John Rustad’s party.”

Eby said Rustad “feels quite comfortable with promoting this kind of hateful division” and is bringing an American-style culture war of politics to British Columbia.

BC United MLA Todd Stone said Rustad and the Conservatives were fully aware of Scarse’s behaviour when nominating him, and chose to endorse his views.

“It says that Rustad is a very weak leader who’s got poor judgment, and is certainly in no position to to serve British Columbians as a premier, let alone a leader of a party that is serious – if indeed it is serious – to actually compete in the upcoming provincial election,” said Stone.

The BC Conservatives have surged in public popularity in recent months, leapfrogging the BC United party to challenge the governing New Democrats with fewer than five months to the Oct. 19 provincial election campaign.

READ ALSO: Rob Shaw: BC Conservative leader says United non-compete proposal ‘unpalatable’

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