Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi is no longer running for a seat as a Green MLA in Vancouver-Renfrew (formerly known as Vancouver-Kingsway) against NDP Health Minister Adrian Dix.
On Wednesday, BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau tweeted that Gandhi had been removed as deputy leader of the party, and she had accepted his resignation as a candidate.
This was due to the former top B.C. pediatric heart surgeon liking a tweet that compared provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to the Nazi SS officer Josef Mengele, who conducted “inhumane, and often deadly, medical experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz.”
The tweet, a quote tweet sent by an account with a small follower count and no profile picture, asked Gandhi to read an embedded letter from Times Colonist contributor Adrian Fine, a retired MD. Fine’s letter criticized Dix’s response to the Surrey Memorial Hospital in mid-September.
But the quote tweet drawing Gandhi’s attention to the letter also referred to Henry as “Queen Bonnie ‘Mengele’ Henry” and called the NDP “horrid.”
Gandhi declined to speak to The Tyee for this article, instead pointing to a statement he posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday.
In that post he said he meant to “like” the post about Fine’s letter, not the quote-tweeted version that contained the Nazi comparison.
Gandhi said he did not realize his mistake until this Wednesday.
“We can be passionate and aggressive in criticizing the government, but personal attacks are categorically wrong, as was my misplaced ‘like,’” he wrote.
“As the subject of considerable racism in my own life, I know that words matter, and I do not condone the belittling or demonization of any group of people for any reason, including those based on race or religion. I am sorry for the harm I have caused,” Gandhi continued.
The Tyee also requested an interview with Furstenau but she was not made available.
During Thursday’s media availability at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Furstenau said removing Gandhi from the party was not reflective of “his service as a pediatric heart surgeon or his character, but as a reminder of the responsibilities that we bear as public figures and that our words and our actions are that much more important that we be mindful and very careful with them.”
The government has to hold itself to account, she added.
The BC Greens celebrated Gandhi’s experience in the medical field when he announced his candidacy in September, placing him in a riding that would see him run against NDP Health Minister Dix.
“I had hoped to engage in meaningful, respectful discussion during the provincial election campaign,” Gandhi wrote on X. “But I recognize that my mistake and others capitalizing on that mistake will be an unavoidable distraction, making that impossible.”
In September, Furstenau said she worked closely with Gandhi to produce the BC Greens’ health-care plan.
When asked on Thursday what the party would do without Gandhi’s expertise, Furstenau said the Greens have always spoken with a range of experts to “get evidence-based informed policy guidance and advice and will continue to do that.”
Furstenau said she trusts the Green Party’s vetting process but is also “absolutely certain the party will review this and learn from it.”
On X, Gandhi concluded his statement with a note saying the health-care system is “broken,” its strategy is “failing” and the government “consistently fails to recognize that.”
He said he hopes this message, and not his “blunder” on X, “encourages others to continue to demand more for British Columbians.”
The Tyee also reached out to the account that sent the initial quote tweet to Gandhi but did not hear back by press time.
Michelle Gamage, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee