VICTORIA — British Columbia's Green Leader Sonia Furstenau says she fired her deputy for liking a social media post that compared provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to Josef Mengele, an infamous Nazi doctor who experimented on concentration camp victims during the Second World War.
She said Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi's actions were "unacceptable" and she had also accepted his resignation as the Green candidate in the 2024 B.C. election in the newly formed provincial riding of Vancouver-Renfrew.
“We do not as a party tolerate hateful rhetoric," she said Thursday at a news conference at the legislature. "This party continues to condemn rhetoric that aligns with extreme or hateful narratives, particularly any minimizing of the Holocaust."
The Green Party had vetted Gandhi's candidacy, said Furstenau.
Gandhi said in a statement Thursday he accidentally liked the post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, and he only realized his "blunder" on Wednesday and has now unliked the post.
Premier David Eby said Gandhi's social media behaviour represented a "reprehensible" attack on Henry, a dedicated public servant who helped guide the province through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Obviously, it was a reprehensible thing to do when you've got someone like Bonnie Henry who's just a person trying to do her best for British Columbians through the COVID-19 pandemic and was internationally recognized for her work on that," he said in an interview. "To attack her in that way, as someone who has worked tirelessly, is so awful."
Eby said he backed Furstenau's decision to remove Gandhi as deputy leader, "in what must have been a difficult but necessary decision."
Public servants like Henry are doing their utmost to help people, said Eby.
"They're not secret agents of a great conspiracy," he said. "They are just doing their best to keep people safe. She deserves better than that."
Gandhi said in his statement he agreed with Furstenau that stepping away from his role with the party is the best course of action.
"As the subject of considerable racism in my 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," the statement said, adding he is sorry for any harm he has caused.
Gandhi, former chief of cardiac surgery at BC Children’s Hospital, left his post last December and was named deputy Green leader in January.
He announced his intention to run for the Greens just two months ago in the redrawn riding that covers most of the Vancouver-Kingsway constituency currently held by B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2023.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press