Alex Johnstone, running in the federal election for the New Democratic Party (NDP), has apologized for a controversial remark she posted on social media several years ago, where she commented on a friend’s Facebook picture taken at the Auschwitz concentration camp museum that featured an electric fence and its curved concrete supports.
"Ahhh, the infamous Pollish (sic), phallic, hydro posts," Johnstone’s comment reads. "Of course you took pictures of this! It expresses how the curve is normal, natural, and healthy right!"
After the comment surfaced on satirical publication the True North Times, the Hamilton trustee claimed ignorance, claiming, in an interview with the Hamilton Spectator, “Well, I didn’t know what Auschwitz was, or I didn’t up until today.”
On Tuesday, the candidate again went to Facebook, though this time to share her remorse at having made such a comment.
Johnstone, who is running in the West-Ancaster-Dundas riding in Hamilton, told the Spectator that while she “had heard about concentration camps,” she hadn’t heard of Auschwitz, specifically.
Following the unearthing of her controversial Facebook comment, Johnstone, the vice-chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School, accused her opponents of “mud-slinging.” Coincidentally, the story was heavily circulating on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
On social media, several commented on the fact that it was odd that a school trustee had not heard of a death camp as notorious as Auschwitz, including Ontario’s president for the Liberal Party of Canada, Tyler Banham. According to the Huffington Post, Johnstone had participated in board meetings where prizes were awarded to teachers for "excellence in Holocaust Education."
The Huffington Post also referred to several tweets in which Johnstone encouraged learning about Holocaust education, and even noted its importance in Canadian educational institutions.